ESPN scout has 2 lofty player comparisons for Cade Cunningham

Guard Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers has been compared to Cade Cunningham of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Guard Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers has been compared to Cade Cunningham of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Cade Cunningham has had an up and down rookie season for the Detroit Pistons.

After having a slow start due to injury, he bounced back and had claimed the top spot on the Rookie Ladder before suffering a hip pointer and missing five games.

A strong end to the season would put him back in the Rookie of the Year race, and one ESPN scout still puts him as the frontrunner to win it.

Mike Schmitz of ESPN has been very high on Cunningham from the beginning, once calling him the most complete prospect he’d ever evaluated.

Cunningham has showed flashes of it all season, and his ability to make plays is going to be even more impactful when he has teammates that are better at finishing the shots he creates.

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Schmitz hasn’t backed away from his lofty expectations for Cade Cunningham and recently had some interesting player comparisons for him in his Rookie Power Rankings (Subscription).

Let’s take a look at the two guys he brought up and how they compare to Cade Cunningham who is averaging 15.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists in his rookie season.

Detroit Pistons: ESPN’s 2 player comparisons for Cade Cunningham

Luka Doncic

Rookie Season: 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6 assists

Schmitz named Luka Doncic as best-case comparison for Cade Cunningham and it is one we’ve heard before.

When you consider Doncic is already one of the best players in the NBA, that is pretty high praise. You can see it at times, as Cade has the size to make his way into the paint, where he can finish or set up teammates, much as Doncic does.

Cunningham has also thrived in the post game at times and has shown he can play bully ball to get to his spot and finish with hooks or runners, which is also similar to Luka.

I would also say that Cunningham is already a better defender than Doncic and is far more disruptive on that end of the floor and has a similarly high basketball I.Q.

It’s still a stretch to say Cade is going to be the next Luka, but that is not a knock against Cunningham, more just showing respect for Luka, who has done things at his age that we’ve rarely seen in the NBA.

He’s made All-NBA teams and carried his team to the playoffs, so Cade has some work to do to get to his level, though the signs have been there.

Brandon Roy

Rookie Season: 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4 assists

The second player Schmitz brought up was Brandon Roy, who played for the Portland Trail Blazers from 2006-2011 for those of you who are not familiar with his work.

Roy was similar to Cade in a lot of ways, as he was a hybrid forward who could make plays, was very crafty around the rim and was a very good defender.

If this comparison doesn’t excite you, I assure you it is a compliment, as Roy was on his way to superstardom before injuries ended his career prematurely.

He was a couple of years older than Cade in his rookie season and won Rookie of the Year before making three straight All-Star appearances, which is the trajectory Cunningham is hoping to follow.

I do think Cade has a slightly higher ceiling than Roy did just because of his age and 3-point shooting, but I’m also not ready to declare him ready for generational superstardom like Doncic just yet.

These are fair, but lofty comparisons and let’s hope Cade Cunningham ends up in that best-case scenario that some scouts are seeing.

Next. Cade Cunningham is climbing the Pistons' all-time rookie list. dark