Kevin Garnett says Emoni Bates should be 6th man for Cavs, deeply questions how they’re using rookie

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Emoni Bates is believed to be one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ most promising prospects. Kevin Garnett even thinks he should be “first off the bench” for the team, saying as much on his Instagram story.

Kevin Garnett and Emoni Bates

The organization recently assigned Bates to its G League affiliate, seemingly to give him some run while he continues to improve.

He didn’t disappoint in his G League debut, popping off for 29 points and seven 3-pointers to lead his squad to victory. The basketball world took notice, and so did Garnett. The rookie was back with the Cavs on Saturday after his stellar game in the G League and briefly saw some action against the Golden State Warriors.

While he was highly touted coming out of high school, Bates couldn’t show his true potential during his one-year stay at the University of Memphis. Playing out of position and suffering injuries, he saw his draft stock fall. Bates then transferred to Eastern Michigan University, but not even his solid sophomore campaign in college proved enough for many NBA franchises to risk selecting him early in the 2023 NBA Draft.

The Cavs may have struck gold as the youngster fell to the team at No. 49. The organization signed him to a two-way deal, which means that Bates will split time between playing in the NBA and G League.

He’s yet to have a huge game at the NBA level, with his best game coming in an early-season loss to the New York Knicks. Bates recorded nine points in a little less than 23 minutes in that contest. He has played in just two other matches, where he failed to score at all.

Even so, his performance for the Cleveland Charge displayed his potential on the offensive end of the court.

It remains to be seen if the Cavs will entrust him with more playing time later in the campaign. But the team is currently struggling to score, averaging just 109.7 points per game and ranking 23rd in that department in the league. If the issues persist later on, the coaching staff might look at giving Bates more chances to showcase his strengths.

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Orel is a freelance writer who is passionate about the NBA. He has followed the league since the late '90s and found increased interest in it in 2003 – when an 18-year-old prodigy from Akron, Ohio took the league by storm.