Detroit Pistons: Superstar or bust? The NBA Draft’s biggest wildcard

Eastern Michigan forward Emoni Bates attempts a free throw against Northern Illinois during the first half at the George Gervin GameAbove Center in Ypsilanti on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.
Eastern Michigan forward Emoni Bates attempts a free throw against Northern Illinois during the first half at the George Gervin GameAbove Center in Ypsilanti on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. /

The Detroit Pistons will be looking for star power in the draft and could find it in a local player, depending on who you ask.

One word comes to mind to describe Eastern Michigan’s Emoni Bates: polarizing.

The 6-foot-10, 170 pound sophomore has been in the spotlight for what feels like forever, finally able to declare for the NBA Draft in 2023.

Bates is only 18-years old, turning 19 this coming week. NBA rules state that prospects must be at least 19-years old during the calendar year of the draft, deeming Bates ineligible until this year.

Through his high school journey at Lincoln High School and Ypsi Prep Academy, both in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Bates was seen as a prospect who could be the NBA’s next big thing.

That hype started to taper off toward the end of Bates’ high school career, continuing into his freshman season with the Memphis Tigers, playing alongside Pistons rookie center Jalen Duren.

At Memphis, Bates missed a lot of time due to injury. When he was on the court, he was good at times, but overall his time as a Tiger was disappointing.

In 18 games as a freshman, Bates averaged 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 23 minutes per game. Not horrible for a freshman. But, for someone of Bates’ stature, this was underwhelming.

This led Bates to hit the transfer portal and eventually land with Eastern Michigan in his hometown of Ypsilanti, a much more close-knit situation, fairly out of the spotlight, around where Bates has the support he needs to develop.

Remember, he’s still only an 18-year old kid.

These 3 NCAA teams have the best NBA prospects. light. Related Story

For the Eagles, Bates is the man. In 19 games so far this season, he’s averaging 20.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the floor and 37.2 percent from three. He’s started in each game where he has worn an EMU uniform, being their iron man by playing over 33 minutes per game.

Not to mention, he dropped 43 points against Toledo on Tuesday night, including a whopping 29 points in a row during the first half.

Emoni was cookin’. He never left the floor for the Eagles, playing all 40 minutes of the game.

Detroit Pistons: Ups and downs with Emoni Bates

Scoring at will comes along with Bates. He popped for 36 points against South Carolina and 30 against Michigan earlier in the season, while having some off nights sprinkled in as well.

Through the ups and downs of an early career for Bates, his NBA draft stock has joined him along for the wild ride.

In his early high school years, he appeared to be a piece that many NBA teams would be happy to rebuild around. After the Memphis experiment, his future in the NBA was uncertain.

Who Bates will be in the league continues to be an uncertainty. But, he has been able to show that the star potential is still there.

Is that potential on a Kevin Durant-like level? I’m guessing no. But, I do think there is a spot for him in the NBA, with that potential star upside.

At the time of writing, Bates seems to be projected somewhere in the late-first to mid-second round range in this upcoming draft and the Detroit Pistons happen to have a pick in that range.

If he continues to make eyes pop, maybe dropping another 40-piece in the MAC, that stock can rise.

Bates’ skillset doesn’t come around often. A scorer at his size with his handle is something where some may even use the word, *gasp*, generational. But, his fluctuating history may put him off of some team’s draft boards completely.

Still, an NBA organization is going to take a swing at Bates. And that swing could come in the late lottery if the highlight reel nights continue.

As of right now, the Detroit Pistons would have the 32nd pick in the upcoming draft, which may be the perfect spot to take a chance on a Michigan product with a lot of talent.

Next. Most intriguing Draft prospect you’ve never heard of. dark