Fans voted Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Emoni Bates to compete in the G-League’s Up Next Game during All-Star Weekend in Indiana. He joins 27 other players in a tournament-style exhibition highlighting the G-League’s best young talents.
The Up Next Game is essentially an All-Star game – only this year, four teams of seven players will compete. Teams will be drafted by “influencer” general managers and streamed on their various digital platforms. More information can be found here.
Bates, who turned 20 years old on Sunday, will be the only member of the Cleveland Charge to participate in this year’s game. Last season, Sharife Cooper and Isaiah Mobley suited up for “Team Luka” in Utah.
Formerly the highest-ranked prospect of his class, Bates has faced an uphill battle to prove he is NBA-worthy. He currently averages 24.7 points for the Chrage, shooting a blistering 42% from behind the three-point line in 15 games.
The road ahead includes growing as an on-ball creator, an off-ball mover and most of all, holding his own on the defensive end. These finer aspects of the game are what Bates is focusing his attention on during his time in the G-League.
Charge Head Coach Mike Gerrity has sung Emoni’s praises at various points of the season. However, there is still much work to be done for the developing prospect. This isn’t going to happen overnight.
Still, earning an All-Star nod, even in the G-League, is worth something. The last few years have been a roller coaster for a player who once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at just 15 years old. Bates has fully embraced the ups and downs of his career so far — working diligently on the road to redemption.
Playing in the Up Next Game serves as another milestone in Emoni’s journey. Now roughly halfway through his rookie season, these moments are the ones that let you know Bates is headed in the right direction.