Pistons news: A lost season for Cade Cunningham sets Detroit back

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Fans of the Detroit Pistons have been waiting patiently for news about Cade Cunningham, fearing the worst but hoping for the best.

The worst came to fruition yesterday when it was announced that Cade would have season-ending surgery on his shin:

To say this is disappointing would be a vast understatement, as Cade Cunningham is the franchise player and the main reason fans had optimism for this season and beyond.

There was hope that rest would be enough to heal his injury, and Cunningham was recently spotted getting some shots up, which buoyed that hope, but it didn’t last.

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Obviously, we all want what is best for Cade and the team long term, but the news that he is officially out means that this will be a lost season for the Detroit Pistons in many ways.

Detroit Pistons: It’s a lost season without Cade Cunningham

The show will still go on and games will still be played, so it’s not like the Detroit Pistons are going to forfeit the rest of their games because their best player is out for the season.

They still have young players like Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Livers who need developmental reps and will get plenty of them with Cade out. This could actually be better for guys like Hayes, who will get to run the offense and log starter’s minutes for the rest of the season.

But the truth is that these developmental minutes are really a half measure because they aren’t showing us how these parts work with Cade Cunningham, which is pretty much the only thing that matters.

Can Ivey thrive off the ball or should he come off the bench as the primary initiator and scorer? Is Killian Hayes better off in the starting lineup with Cade playing more off the ball? Is Cunningham more suited to be a playmaking wing than a point guard?

How does the pick-and-roll with Cade and Duren look? Can Bojan Bogdanovic help unlock Cade’s talents? Should they trade Bogdanovic or is the fit with Cade too good to pass up? These are all questions that we’ll have to wait on for another year and some of them will never be answered at all.

This was a rebuilding year for the Detroit Pistons with or without Cade Cunningham, but many of us were hoping we’d have a much better idea of the direction the franchise was going in after this season and that the young Pistons would really start to gel and build chemistry by the end of it.

Some of that can still happen, but evaluating this team without Cade is like evaluating a Ferrari without the engine in it.

The young players can and must make the most of their increased opportunity, but this is setback for the development of the team that now has far less data to go by when trying to make decisions next offseason.

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