Cade Cunningham inches closer to top spot on Rookie Ladder

Evan Mobley #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots over Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Evan Mobley #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots over Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

After an injury and a slow start, there was a time when Detroit Pistons’ rookie Cade Cunningham wasn’t in the Rookie of the Year discussion at all.

The focus was all on Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley, but Cade has slowly worked his way into the conversation after some big games that reminded people why he was the #1 pick.

Like all rookies, Cade Cunningham has been inconsistent at times, putting together his best game of the season against Utah just to follow it with a stinker against Chicago the next night.

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That is part of learning how to be a professional, and all rookies (and veterans for that matter) have off nights, especially ones who are on bad teams as Cunningham is in Detroit.

He’s balanced the bad with a lot of good as he now has four games of at least 25 points and five assists, while the rest of his rookie class has two combined.

Cunningham also makes his teammates better, is the guy taking the clutch shots at the ends of games (when they aren’t blowouts) and has a lot more responsibility than some of the other rookies who are surrounded with more talent.

That is why is steadily climbing the NBA Rookie Ladder.

Cade Cunningham has eyes on the top spot on the Rookie Ladder

The NBA Rookie Ladder is the weekly ranking of rookies written by NBA analyst Steve Aschburner.

Cade Cunningham had never been higher than 3rd on the list, usually behind Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley who have traded places in the top two spots all season.

This week, Cade overtook Barnes and snagged the #2 spot on the list, only behind Mobley, who is having a fantastic season for the surprising Cavaliers, who are currently the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference.

Cleveland has had much more team success and Mobley has been a huge part of that, so it’s hard to argue his position in the top spot.

But Cade Cunningham has been making his case too, as he averaged 17.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists over the last week, which propelled him from the 4th spot all the way up to number two.

Cunningham isn’t all about offense either. Just watch his defense on this play, where he stops the fast break, closes out on a 3-point shooter, then rotates to the paint, causing a turnover. It’s a thing a beauty.

He’s the type of high IQ player who makes his teammates better, and even though the Detroit Pistons haven’t won much, Cade deserves the recognition he is getting.

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