Detroit Pistons: Emoni Bates surging up draft boards after monster stretch

Emoni Bates #21 of the Eastern Michigan Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Emoni Bates #21 of the Eastern Michigan Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons will have two picks in the 2023 NBA Draft, one that they are hoping is the #1 overall and one that would currently be 32nd if the draft were held today.

It wasn’t all that long ago when that 32nd pick would have gotten them nowhere near a very highly touted prospect coming out of high school. As a matter of fact, 247 Sports ranked him #5 in the 2021 draft class, where he trailed only Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Shaedon Sharpe and Jaden Hardy.

The 6-foot-8 Emoni Bates out of Ypsilanti was headed to Memphis to play basketball for Penny Hardaway’s Tigers, which many expected to be but a pit stop on the way to the NBA. However, Bates took a bit of a detour after a rough season with the Tigers in which he only made it on the floor for 18 turnover-prone games.

Detroit Pistons: Return home helps Emoni Bates regain momentum

Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan University to play his sophomore season in his hometown and given how he’s been playing of late, it seems like it was undoubtedly the right call. He’s on the floor a whole lot more than he was as a freshman, giving him a chance to demonstrate some ability as a volume shooter from 3-point range. Naturally, his scoring is up but at the same time his turnovers are down.

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Bates really began to light the scoreboard up last month when he dropped 43 on Toledo. Bates currently leads the MAC in scoring with 21.2 ppg, which also puts him at 12th in the country. He’s on pace to have one of the highest scoring single seasons in EMU history at this point.

He’s in the midst of his best stretch of the season, with monster games of 43, 35 and 27 over his last five.

Emoni Bates currently ranked like a mid-2nd rounder

While there is still plenty of season to go and Bates is likely to climb a little higher up the board if he continues his torrid play, he currently looks like he’d get drafted somewhere in the first half of the second round, where the Detroit Pistons will have a selection.

Whether or not he’s a good fit for the Detroit Pistons will depend a lot on what happens between now and then with the trade deadline, but Troy Weaver is known for giving high-level athletes who have lost some shine an opportunity to get it back. If Bates proves he can be a weapon from downtown and a reliable defender, maybe his homecoming will continue even longer.

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