Cade Cunningham has so far looked to be a generational talent for the Detroit Pistons following his debut season in the NBA.
He averaged 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game this past season after a frustratingly slow start to his career in the first few months. Those numbers put him in an elite group of active players.
Following the All-Star break, Cade Cunningham averaged 21 points, 6.4 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game as the Detroit Pistons began to win games (and stay closer in losses) led by the rising star.
Those post All-Star game numbers are better than multiple All-Stars and would give him a real shot at making an All-NBA roster if the Pistons were in the playoff picture.
Of course, Cunningham will likely improve next season as he works in the offseason, and he learns through film sessions, but how big will his leap be?
So how good can Cade Cunningham realistically be for the Detroit Pistons next year?
Placing his bare minimum floor for next season at those post All-Star numbers seems fair enough assuming the future star avoids injury throughout the season.
Meaning we are looking at potentially upwards of 21/6/6 for Cunningham next season.
I think it’s fair to say that his assist numbers will improve with a better roster as will his scoring totals as he no longer plays with a ball stopping teammate like Jerami Grant.
Eight assists per game seems well within the realm of possibility with new lob threats and less isolation plays being used next season.
The only real weakness of Cade Cunningham last season was his three-point shooting as he sat at only 31.4 percent from beyond the arc. This is likely to improve though as he has a smooth release, his free throw percentage being nearly 85 percent, and has been seen working with players such as Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving in the last few months.
If he can get his long-range jump shot to a more respectable 35-36 percent from three-point land, he will be a dangerous scoring threat from anywhere on the floor, opening up passing lanes and opportunities to score as well.
This would also increase his percentage from the field as well by adding more makes, potentially pushing his efficiency up by quite a bit as he took over five three-pointers a game.
Cunningham also struggled with finishing through contact at times throughout the year, although this should mostly fix itself as he has put on a noticeable amount of muscle, making it easier for him to score in the paint and defend against bigger opponents.
All of this combined makes it incredibly realistic for Cade Cunningham to average somewhere in the 25-27 points per game range.
That extra muscle will also make it easier for him to rebound. Still, he is only six-foot six, limiting what he can do in that area. Six to seven rebounds per game seems fair enough.
If all of this comes together, it puts Cunningham at 26 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds per game and it’s not out of the question to put him at 45 percent from the field, 35 percent from three and 88 percent from the free throw line.
This all goes without mentioning that Cade Cunningham will be improving on defense. He was recently seen playing a pickup game against all-time great point guard Stephen Curry where he was able to play elite defense forcing the former MVP into a difficult shot.
Cunningham averaged 1.2 steals and 0.7 blocks, with extra muscle and more experience, 1.8 steals and a block per game are well within his reach.
While these numbers may seem out of reach, this is the realistic best-case scenario for the young star’s sophomore year in the NBA.
Somewhere between 21 points, six assists, six rebounds, a steal, and just under a block on below average efficiency and 27 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, a steal and a half, and a block on good efficiency is where he will likely end up assuming he stays healthy.
No matter what his statistical output next season, nobody can doubt that Cade Cunningham is a future star and the cornerstone of the Detroit Pistons franchise for the foreseeable future.