The Detroit Pistons drafted Cade Cunningham with the first overall pick to make him the centerpiece of their restoration and so far he has not disappointed.
Cade is one of just three active players who averaged at least 17 points, five assists and five rebounds as a rookie, the other two being LeBron James and Luka Doncic. Not bad company to be in.
Like those two players, Cade Cunningham can affect the game in a variety of ways, as he is a playmaking wing who can score, distribute and defend multiple positions. If you could pick a type of player to build around, he would be it, as he creates mismatches and is versatile enough to fit into any lineup.
In a recent ESPN poll of 15 coaches, scouts and executives, insiders were asked a series of questions about the present and future of the NBA and there were some surprises.
The first surprise came in the very first question, as this group was asked who the best player in the NBA is right now and two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic didn’t get a single vote. Giannis Antetokounmpo got most of them with 11 votes, Stephen Curry got three and 38-year-old LeBron James got the last one.
Jokic might simultaneously be the best and most underrated player in the NBA, which has to be a first. While I didn’t expect Cade Cunningham’s name to pop up in this one, there was a question later in the survey where he might have been overlooked.
Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham in five years
It’s hard to predict what the NBA will look like in five years, as there will be a whole lot of the current talent shuffled out and replaced with guys who are now in their second or third seasons in the league.
This group of 15 insiders was asked who they thought would be the best player in five years and once again, Giannis took home the win with seven votes. He will be 32-years-old by then and likely playing with a far different team, but I don’t think this is a huge surprise, as he is the youngest of the current MVP frontrunners and should still be at the tail-end of his prime.
Luka Doncic got six votes and Jayson Tatum got two, again, not surprising given their ages and current standing in the league.
So should Cade have gotten some love here?
I do think there is a good chance Cade Cunningham will be an MVP candidate in five years, but he is definitely not as proven as these other guys after only playing one season. He’s also on a bad team, and until that changes, Cunningham is probably not going to get the respect he deserves.
Cunningham has the chance to put up big stats next season with a better supporting cast around him, and could jump up to more like 22 points, six assists and seven rebounds per game, which would definitely then put him in this discussion.
If Cunningham makes a big leap next season and the Detroit Pistons are making some noise in the Eastern Conference (by that I mean near the play-in), Cade will get more recognition from the coaches, scouts and executives who took part in this poll.
Bookmark this for next year around this time, as ESPN will almost certainly do a similar poll again and this time, Cade Cunningham might be part of it.