Cade Cunningham is living up to his lofty expectations as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft. Last season, Cunningham was unfortunately limited to only 12 games due to a shin injury. Before his injury, the point guard from Oklahoma State was improving in practically every major statistical category.
Top 25 NBA Players Under 25: No. 10 – Cade Cunningham
He was averaging 19.9 points, 6.0 assists, 6.2 rebounds, and 0.8 steals on 42/28/84 shooting splits. For context, in Cunningham’s rookie season, he averaged 17.4 points, 5.6 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals on 42/31/85 shooting splits. As a result, he made the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
Pistons’ New Defensive Identity
Now entering his third year, Cunningham and the Pistons have a ton to look forward to. He’s still only 21 years old and fits in exceptionally well with their up-and-coming timeline of emerging talents, most notably Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, and recent No. 5 overall pick Ausar Thompson. Cunningham is an ideal floor general and emerging superstar to lead this young Pistons team.
For one, he has great positional size at 6-foot-7, 220 pounds. Because of his rare size and skill set combination, Cunningham is a versatile point guard that contributes to winning in a variety of different ways. His size, athleticism, quick hands, and court awareness give Cunningham the potential to be a plus defender in the future.
However, offensively, Cade makes the most of his impact. The only knock on Cunningham is his inefficient three-point percentage, which was 28 last season and 31 his rookie year. However, he has solid form and an excellent work ethic, both of which suggest he should be closer to the league average sooner rather than later.
Besides his outside shooting, Cunningham is already one of the most well-rounded point guards in the league. He is above average at particularly everything you can think of on the basketball court. Whether it’s pick and roll, isolation, fast breaks, or even post-ups, Cunningham can score and create for teammates in various aspects. He’s already a great decision-maker who knows how to use his positional size well to get to his desired spot on the court.
Cunningham’s offensive strengths are highlighted in the following video, where he went off for 35 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
One of the best aspects of Cunningham’s game is how in control he is. Despite his skill set and former No. 1 overall pick status, he’s a player who never seems to force anything. He plays within the flow of the offense and lets the game come to him. In other words, he’s an unselfish star and someone you want to be leading your team.
Last Word on Cade Cunningham
Detroit is in the midst of rebuilding an extraordinarily formidable and switchable defense around Cunningham, Duren, and Thompson. Newly appointed head coach Monty Williams is the perfect hire for the young Detroit team. He has had prior success in the NBA, especially in Phoenix with developing their young talent. Williams and Cunningham are a great pairing that should be together for a long time.
With a new, proven head coach and tantalizing young pieces around Cunningham, everything points to him having a breakout campaign in his third season. He’s a unique talent that could easily be a top-five player in next year’s rankings.