Cade Cunningham tops some notable names in ESPN rankings

Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons is introduced before the game against the Orlando Magic (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons is introduced before the game against the Orlando Magic (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Cade Cunningham is entering his second season for the Detroit Pistons, and his ranking among his NBA peers is radically different depending on who you ask.

CBS had Cade ranked 16th out of 22 point guards, which seems a bit unfair when you look at some of the names that are ahead of him on the list.

Yes, Cade was inefficient at times last season, but anyone who paid attention after the All-Star break saw glimpses of his future.

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His rookie numbers put him in an elite group of active players, as only three guys (including Cade) have ever put up at least 17 points, five rebounds and five assists in their first season.

But that didn’t stop NBA executives from putting Cade 11th amongst young players they’d like to build around in a recent poll, so clearly some people weren’t watching.

That’s why it was somewhat surprising when Cade Cunningham was ranked 35th on ESPN’s recent top-100  player rankings, especially when you see some of the names behind him on the list.

Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham’s rank in the top-100

Cunningham jumped from 76th last season all the way up to 35th. Here is what ESPN had to say:

"“Cunningham is a Swiss Army knife, capable of sliding between any of the backcourt positions at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan. He’s highly switchable and versatile defensively and able to play on or off the ball with his ability to handle, pass and shoot. The soon-to-be 21-year-old should make a jump in his sophomore season, especially from beyond the arc after shooting 31.4% as a rookie.”"

It’s hard to argue against any of that, still, it was surprising to see him ranked so highly considering how little national attention he got last season, finishing 3rd in the Rookie of the Year race.

Cunningham was ranked the highest of any player in his draft class, coming just ahead of Evan Mobley (36) and Scottie Barnes (39) and way head of Jalen Green (62). I was also shocked not to see Franz Wagner on the list at all (unless he made the top-25, which hasn’t been released yet), especially with guys like Keegan Murray (who hasn’t even played yet) and Caris LeVert (is he even good?) making the cut.

There were plenty of notable names behind Cade Cunningham on the list, which will undoubtedly enrage some fan bases (which is probably the point of these lists):

  • 37-Klay Thompson (coming off a “down” season, but still, he’s a 4-time champion)
  • 38-Fred VanVleet (All-Star last season)
  • 40-Zion Williamson (40th?!? If he’s healthy, he cracks the top-20)
  • 41-LaMelo Ball (All-Star last season with better stats than Cade)
  • 42-Dejounte Murray (All-Star last season)
  • 43-Draymond Green (4-time champ and All-Defense last season)
  • 45-CJ McCollum (7 years in a row with +20 ppg)
  • 46-Darius Garland (All-Star last season)
  • 50-Jamal Murray (ranked as a top-10 PG by CBS)

Some other notable names were Jerami Grant ranked at 64 and former MVP Russell Westbrook listed at 65, which seems low.

As Homer #1, I completely agree that Cade is ahead of all of these guys, but I was surprised to see ESPN put him this high, especially after the former #1 pick got very little positive attention last season.

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