Detroit Pistons: Is Cade Cunningham really “Grant Hill with a jump shot”?

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Detroit Pistons drafted Cade Cunningham with the number one pick, they found the young player they wanted to build around.

The same was true back in 1994 when the Pistons first drafted Grant Hill, who immediately became an All-Star as a rookie and quickly established himself as one of the best all-around players in the league.

After 27 years, the Pistons finally got another elite talent to build around, though Cade Cunningham still has plenty to prove before we can anoint him as the savior of the Detroit Pistons.

Analyst Greg Anthony has seen enough, and according to Pistons’ beat writer Mike Curtis, said as much to Cunningham recently, comparing him to Grant Hill.

I thought Cade’s response was interesting and shows that he has a knowledge of the game that extends beyond his lifetime, as he wasn’t even born when Grant Hill entered the league.

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This is a comparison we’ve seen before and there are certainly some things about Cunningham and Hill that are similar, but there are also some big differences and one key error in Greg Anthony’s statement.

Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham and Grant Hill

One thing I take exception to in Anthony’s statement is that Grant Hill didn’t have a jump shot. Excuse me? Grant Hill shot over 50 percent from the floor four times in his career and never shot below 44 percent aside from his injury-hampered final season.

A lot of those buckets were at the rim, but Hill also had a decent mid-range game, so it is a stretch to say he didn’t have a jump shot, especially later in his career, when he was around 47 percent on mid-range jumpers. That is pretty much the same as DeMar DeRozan, who is now considered one fo the best mid-range players in the game.

Cade Cunningham shot just 41.6 percent from the floor last season (and about the same from mid-range), worse than any season in Hill’s career, so the more accurate way to phrase it would be “Grant Hill with a 3-point shot” as Hill rarely shot them and when he did, didn’t make many of them. Cade is going to be an accurate, high-volume 3-point shooter, which Hill never was.

Cunningham and Hill have plenty in common as playmaking forwards who have versatile and strong all-around games on both ends. Both guys rebound, set up teammates, can create their own shots and defend multiple positions.

They are both high I.Q. players who understand the moment and when to take over a game.

But there was one big difference in that Hill was much-more athletic overall and had a first step and crossover that was one of the best in the NBA, and one of the best of all time for a guy his size.

Hill played more above the rim and could jump out of the gym, as you can witness in these highlights.

I think people forget just what an athletic freak Grant Hill was. Cade Cunningham’s game is more cerebral and relies on change of pace and elite court vision than jumping over opponents for huge dunks. Cade can get up there too, but there are few forwards in history that could beat people with a first step and dunk on their heads like Grant Hill.

I’m sure Cade really does appreciate the comparison, and there are certainly some things that are similar, but their games aren’t identical and Hill definitely developed a jumper in his career.

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