Who will be the next All-Star for the Detroit Pistons?

Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons speaks with Saddiq Bey (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons speaks with Saddiq Bey (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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With the 2022 NBA All-Star voting set to end in the coming days, much of the NBA discourse will revolve around the rosters that will be competing in Cleveland on February 20th. And for the third straight season, it’s safe to say the Detroit Pistons probably won’t have a player in the big game.

There will, however, be some players participating in the weekend festivities for the Pistons. Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey should be locks for the Rising Stars Game. Hamidou Diallo deserves another invite to the Slam Dunk Contest, after winning it in 2019 as a member of the Thunder.

Pistons’ fans will have a little to cheer about, but in order to fully enjoy All-Star Weekend in the future we will need a horse in the race.

As mentioned earlier, the Detroit Pistons haven’t had an NBA All-Star game participant since Blake Griffin in 2018-2019. Before that, Andre Drummond was selected twice – in 2016 and 2018. And unfortunately, that’s it for the Pistons in the past decade.

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But those times are behind us. Despite the poor record this season, it’s safe to so say the Pistons are getting past the “dark ages” of the 2010s. General manager Troy Weaver has completely overhauled the roster, so much so, that there are potentially a couple future All-Stars already in Detroit and the potential to add another in the near future.

So who will be the next all-star for the Detroit Pistons? We will start with the obvious first choice.

Next All-Star from Detroit: Cade Cunningham

Cade Cunningham was drafted number one overall to change the trajectory of the Pistons. This means multiple All-NBA selections, individual awards, deep playoff runs, and most importantly for this discussion NBA All-Star game appearances.

With these expectations, combined with Cade’s performances so far, the best question to ask for him is not will he make an All-Star game, but when?

Looking at recent league history can give us some context for this upcoming achievement. The last rookie to make the all-star game was Blake Griffin in 2011, but it was technically his second year in the NBA due to injury.

Interestingly enough, only six players since 1990 have made the All-Star game as a rookie. Even Lebron James and Kevin Durant couldn’t do it. This list does however include Pistons’ legend Grant Hill, who made the team as a 22-year-old rookie in 1995.

In the modern NBA, a player’s All-Star campaign realistically starts in their second season. This year should be no different. We will likely see Lamelo Ball and Anthony Edwards in the mix from the 2020 draft class.

It is a lock that a couple other young guards will be making it this year in their third season – Ja Morant and Darius Garland.

For context, here’s a running list of some current players first All-Star game appearance:

  • Luka Doncic – 2nd season
  • Trae Young – 2nd season
  • Zion Williamson – 2nd season
  • Devin Booker – 5th season
  • Damian Lillard – 2nd season
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo – 4th season
  • Jayson Tatum – 3rd season
  • Donovan Mitchell – 3rd season

Looking even deeper, many of these players were able to be selected so young for a couple of reasons: individual numbers and team success. Sometimes a combination of the two.

Both Luka Doncic and Trae Young averaged over 28 points per game in their sophomore seasons. Players like Tatum and Mitchell had great numbers and  team records. In the past, we’ve seen guys like Booker and Lillard get left off of all-star teams by being tabbed as a “good stats, bad team” guy.

So what does all of this mean for Cade Cunningham?

The earliest he could make the NBA All-Star game is next season, but will more than likely be in year three. Cade’s numbers are great so far, and he could make the scoring leap that a guy like Doncic did in his second season, but it’s more likely he will fall into that low 20s range next season.

As the Pistons continue to build, the team should be improving by Cade’s third season and that could be the perfect storm where you just can’t leave him off.

Bottom line is the Pistons got their guy. He belongs in the conversation with some of these young stars and should be locked into the list in just a few short seasons.