Cade Cunningham may be right about the 2022 NBA Draft

Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) dunks the ball Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) dunks the ball Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons are hoping to land another top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft to pair with star rookie Cade Cunningham and set the foundation for the future.

I’ve flip flopped about 25 times on who I think that top player is, usually going with the guy who I saw play most recently, as there is a lot to like about Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero and I could be talked into any of them.

Jabari offers elite shooting and size, something the Pistons desperately need. Holmgren is an uber skilled big who would give the Pistons two versatile, high IQ offensive weapons, and Banchero is possibly the best athlete in this class, a guy with great size and explosive leaping ability who can score from all three levels.

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I may be undecided, but Cade Cunningham is not, as he made his preference for Banchero known earlier in the season.

I don’t know how much weight the Pistons will give Cade Cunningham’s opinion, but the more I watch Banchero, the more I think he might be right.

Pistons draft: Cade Cunningham may be right about Paolo Banchero

When Cade was promoting Banchero as the top guy, he listed his size and elite athleticism as the primary reasons.

Cunningham is right about that. At 6-foot-210, 250 lbs. and with the ability to jump out of the gym, Banchero reminds me a lot of former Piston Blake Griffin.

The difference is that Banchero is already a better shooter than Griffin was coming out of college, as Blake didn’t develop a 3-point shot until much later in his career after his athleticism had faded.

Banchero isn’t quite at Blake’s level athletically, but he is close, and like Blake, can handle the ball and initiate the offense at 6-foot-10, which is not something you see every day.

The other argument for Banchero is that he doesn’t have a glaring weakness in his game. He can score from all three levels, is already a solid defender and projects as a guy who will improve even more as a shooter.

There are question marks about Jabari Smith’s ability to put the ball on the floor and beat NBA defenders. Chet Holmgren’s size and lack of experience against elite competition are the knocks against him, but Banchero doesn’t really have any.

He might have the highest floor of any prospect in this draft, as I just can’t see a way that he is not a success at the next level. You can argue that Smith and Holmgren might have higher ceilings, but I also think they have more potential to be busts, though I would bet against it.

Could we see Cade Cunningham and Paolo Banchero together next season? He’s the guy Cade wants and in this case, the rookie might be right.

You can watch Banchero in action today against Michigan State.

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