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Schiffer: Nets interested in Emoni Bates, a projected late second rounder

Once considered an heir to Kevin Durant, Emoni Bates is now just trying to get drafted. Alex Schiffer of The Athletic thinks the Nets might be willing to take a chance.

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2023 NBA Combine Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images

In a tweet and a report out of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Alex Schiffer writes that the Nets have an interest in Emoni Bates, the 6’10” wing whose checkered college career has seen his stock tumble from a presumptive No. 1 a couple of years ago to a second rounder now.

The interest, Schiffer writes, includes having the 19-year-old in for a workout at HSS Training Center in the “coming weeks.”

Bates is at the draft combine meeting with teams as a projected second-round pick selling teams on his potential, which once made him the nation’s top-ranked recruit. He’s been linked to the Nets, who hold the No. 51 pick in addition to Nos. 21 and 22 in June’s draft and said he will work out for them in the coming weeks.

“Change the narrative,” Bates said when asked about his sales pitch to teams. That would be a necessity.

Bates is currently mocked around where the Nets pick in the second round, No. 51. Brooklyn also currently has two picks in the first round, the Suns’ pick at No. 21 and their own at No. 22.

Not that long ago, like two years, the “next Kevin Durant” was seen as either Chet Holmgren the Minnesota seven-footer (who’s out for the season) or Bates from Michigan, tall skinny teenagers with all the prerequisites for a Kevin Durant comparison: long, skinny, multi-level scorer with a killer crossover and court vision. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and won the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2020,

Then, things went south, literally and figuratively. Memphis won the recruiting battle, but he did not mesh with head coach Penny Hardaway’s system. Also he was troubled by injuries to his finger and and turned into a major disappointment for Tiger fans, averaging fewer than 10 points and shooting less than 40% overall.

Then, after deciding to enter the transfer portal, he went back home and enrolled at Eastern Michigan. But in September of last year, he was arrested in Michigan on felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm, charges that were dropped a month later as part of a deal with prosecutors and he was reinstated by EMU.

He improved with the Eagles but still didn’t look like the five-star recruit he was in high school. As a sophomore, Schiffler writes, Bates averaged 19.2 points per game on 41% shooting including 33% from beyond the 3-point line. Also, Brooks remains in need of bulk and strength. He’s currently at 182 pounds, 33 pounds lighter than Durant was coming out of Texas. Here’s some highlights...

Durant and Kyrie Irving gave Bates encouragement back in mid-December when the two met with him after a Nets-Pistons game at Little Caesar’s Arena. Of course, KD’s word doesn’t matter like it did back in 2021 when he endorsed Cam Thomas, leading the Nets to trade for a second pick in the first round.

The Nets have had luck with second round picks, whether they made the pick, as in the case of Nic Claxton, or they signed second rounders who had been taken by another team, then dumped, like Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie.

Schiffer, the only Nets beat writer at the Combine also noted that the Nets have already worked out two bigs, Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner and Dayton’s DaRon Holmes II. Of the two, Holmes is the higher ranked, making the second round in some mocks.

“It went good,” Kalkbrenner told Schiffer when asked about the Nets’ workout. “When I went there I was really impressed with everything they have facilities, the people there were amazing. I know they’ve had some really talented teams the past few years.”

On the flip side, Holmes would like a do-over with his Brooklyn workout.

“I didn’t do too well, I feel like, at the Nets,” he said. “I feel like I could have stepped it up a bit, but it was good to learn. Great players there.”

Also, add Holmes to the growing list of prospects who’ve been impressed with Mikal Bridges.

“He’s been amazing,” Holmes said of Bridges. “The way he plays … his game has evolved over time it was really cool to see that.”

Previously, Schiffer noted that both Rayan Rupert from France and the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL and Kris Murray of Iowa have said similar things about Bridges (and both have been mocked to the Nets.) Indeed, Rupert seems to be lobbying for the Nets to take him.