Cade Cunningham: Detroit Pistons’ ‘Human Connector’

Detroit Pistons NBA draft pick Cade Cunningham (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons NBA draft pick Cade Cunningham (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Basketball is a team game. Yet, with one pick, Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver connected his team on and off the court with a long sought after, missing piece.

Not a connector or a missing piece like the ‘Goin’ to Work’ mainstay Rasheed Wallace. This team isn’t on the cusp of winning a NBA championship next season, but ,with the selection of former Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham Thursday night, the Pistons found a leader who can connect this young core on and off the court.

“The versatility he brings, the leadership, the connectability, it really separated him,” Weaver said Friday during the team’s NBA Draft class introductory press conference. “Look at our team, he’s a human connector, on the floor, off the floor, along with his advanced skill set. Landing on him was a tremendous honor for us.”

In translation: Weaver selected Cunningham because he can do more than draft option 1B, former G League Ignite star Jalen Green.

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On the court, it’s the all-around game.

Green has Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal written all over him. Green is a pure scorer who dropped 17.9 points per game against professionals, which isn’t any easy task.

But he’s not the connector that Detroit needed, though.

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Off the court the separation is even greater, and that’s not a knock against Green either.

Cunningham had no choice but to become a veteran inside a 19-year-old’s body, or better yet, become a man, quicker than most because he’s the father of two-year-old Riley Cunningham.

You heard that maturity in his voice Friday inside the Pistons Performance Center.

“I just wanted to say a special thank you to Cydney Daly (daughter of former Pistons coach Chuck Daley, who has the number 2 retired in his honor) for giving the organization her blessing to allow me to wear my traditional number, No. 2,” Cunningham said. “That means so much to me, and I know how much these numbers mean (in the rafters) and I know that the people that came before me, really built something special in Detroit, and those legacies live on forever.”

Earlier this week he showcased how in-tune he is with the city’s culture. On Friday, Cunningham was on full display, showing gratitude for being able to wear his go-to number. Add on his articulateness during interviews and, couple it with his play, and it’s obvious why he was the conscious No. 1 overall pick in NBA mock drafts.

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And because of the perfect tank job, and the luck of some bouncing ping pong balls with logos on them, the Detroit Pistons has its connector – on and off the floor.