With the end of the NBA season approaching, teams who have already gotten eliminated from the playoffs are looking to improve their rosters for next season. The first step in that improvement will start with the 2023 NBA draft on June 22, where teams will get to add some of the top college players in the country to their rosters for the upcoming season.
In preparation for the draft, the Phoenix Suns have already begun hosting workouts for players who are on their radar. One of those players is former top high school prospect and University of Eastern Michigan forward, Emoni Bates.
“Bates has already worked out for the Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Hornets and interviewed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Portland Trail Blazers in Chicago,” Alex Schiffer of “The Athletic” reports.
“In addition to the Nets, Bates said he will work out for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Suns, Cavaliers, Blazers, and Detroit Pistons, his hometown team.”
Emoni Bates Had a Tumultuous College Career
Bates once had the allure of other top prospects, such as Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson, and was awarded a full scholarship to play at the University of Memphis under former NBA Star Penny Hardaway, who is the Tigers’ head coach. But with a surplus of talent on the Memphis roster, Bates only averaged 23.4 minutes per game and 9.7 points per contest.
After a subpar freshman season at Memphis, Bates transferred to the University of Eastern Michigan. But just before his sophomore season, he was hit with a felony gun charge and was suspended from the team.
He was eventually allowed to rejoin basketball activities and had a breakout season where he averaged 19.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. The fact remains that Bates is a one-of-one talent, and whatever team decides to draft him will be getting a star athlete.
“Thanks to modern technology, Emoni Bates can easily study basketball art history. He admires elements from each of the greats. Kobe? “Relentless.” Durant? “Scoring machine.” Steph Curry? “Using screens.” For all the Durant comparisons, Bates often resembles a 6′ 9″ Curry: exceptional deep range, super quick dribble,” Michael Rosenberger of Sports Illustrated said of Bates when he was a high school sophomore.
“Every Emoni game features a few distinctive brushstrokes to make hoops aficionados swoon. When he dribbles at the top of the key, the ball rarely goes above his knees. His crossover is obscene. During one Lincoln game last year, he missed a three-pointer, grabbed the rebound, and threw it down. Another time, he bobbled an alley-oop, hung on the rim with his right hand, caught the ball with his left, and lobbed it in for a swish. It was preposterous. It was also obvious goaltending. The great ones draw outside the lines.”
Being Picked Late Could Help Emoni Bates
All the turmoil involving Bates has taken him from being a presumed lottery pick to a second-rounder at best. But that is not necessarily a bad thing for the former Memphis Tiger. Sure, his paycheck will be a lot smaller as a non-lottery pick, but for his longevity as an NBA player, being a late selection could be just what the doctor ordered.
As a lottery pick, you are more often than not coming in as a team’s best player. But getting picked in the later rounds could put Bates in a more favorable circumstance.
Instead of going to a struggling team like the Detroit Pistons or Portland Trail Blazers, he could go to a much better team such as the Phoenix Suns or Los Angeles Lakers and be developed more effectively playing next to the likes of LeBron James or Kevin Durant. The method has been a successful one for players such as Michael Porter Jr, Jordan Poole, and Jonathan Kuminga.
Bates has shown that he has the tools and skillset to be a star, putting him in the right situation will only speed up the process.