Cade Cunningham reminds fans why he was the #1 pick

Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Cade Cunningham exploded in the 3rd quarter against the Jazz and led the Detroit Pistons to an unlikely win after trailing by 22 points in the first half.

It has been a rocky season at times for the #1 pick, as he suffered an injury in preseason, struggled shooting the ball early, and like most of the rest of the league, had to miss some time with COVID.

He’s taken a back seat to guys like Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes in the Rookie of the Year race, and even has some of his own fans questioning if the Pistons made the right pick.

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I think all three players are special and are clearly going to be stars, but last night Cade reminded everyone that he is here too and shouldn’t be overlooked just because he is on a bad team.

Cunningham was left off a recent Top 25 under 25 list, which seemed like an oversight, but I understand the reasoning.

He was ranked 13th out of 15 guys on a “Top young guys to build around list,” again, no argument from me.

But I do think context matters and that some fans are going to eat their words when it comes to Cade Cunningham.

Cade Cunningham explodes vs. Utah and reminds fans of who the Detroit Pistons drafted

Cade Cunningham joined one of the worst situations in the league to achieve instant success. The Pistons are light on talent, very young and lack the scorers to take advantage of Cade’s play-making ability.

This wasn’t the case with Mobley and Barnes, whose teams were in much better shape and have way more actual NBA talent that is not in their first or second year in the league.

That is not to take away from those two, as they are special players who have been amazing this season and helped lead their teams to winning records.

But let’s not pretend all things are equal here. The two aforementioned players aren’t being asked to do nearly as much as Cade has been and they have All-Star level talent around them, which Cade does not.

Add that to the fact that he is playing point guard (where the learning curve is much steeper), had to miss time with injuries, and got COVID just as he was starting to get rolling, and you have a recipe for an inconsistent start to a career.

Cunningham scored a career-high 29 points last night and added eight assists, scored from all three levels, played good defense and led a shorthanded team back against a very good Jazz team that sits 3rd in the Western Conference.

As good as Mobley and Barnes have been (and they have been very good), I am still happy the Detroit Pistons took Cade Cunningham with the first pick.

Hopefully last night will be a turning point and we’ll start getting performances like that more often, and that fans will appreciate the situation and quit comparing him negatively to other guys.

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