Will this stat equal stardom for Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey?

Jaden Ivey #23 and Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Jaden Ivey #23 and Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey were the first Detroit Pistons’ to lead all rookies in assists in back-to-back seasons.

Ivey wasn’t expected to be the primary playmaker last season, but after Cunningham went down with injury, he stepped up and led all rookies in total assists, averaging 5.2 per game for a total of 387 on the season.

The year before it was Cade Cunningham, who played 10 fewer games than Ivey in his rookie campaign but averaged 5.6 per game for a total of 356 on the season.

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I was curious as to whether this was a marker for future stars, so took a look at the NBA rookie assist leaders going all the way back to 2000 to see how often this stat translated into stardom.

Detroit Pistons: Will this stat equal stardom for Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey?

Here are the NBA rookie leaders in total assists in the 21 seasons prior to Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey joining the Detroit Pistons:

  • 2020-21: LaMelo Ball
  • 2019-20: Ja Morant
  • 2018-19: Trae Young
  • 2017-18: Ben Simmons
  • 2016-17: Malcolm Brogdon
  • 2015-16: Emmanuel Mudiay
  • 2014-15: Elfrid Payton
  • 2013-14: Michael Carter-Williams
  • 2012-13: Damian Lillard
  • 2011-12: Ricky Rubio
  • 2010-11: John Wall
  • 2009-10: Stephen Curry
  • 2008-9: Derrick Rose
  • 2007-8: Mike Conley
  • 2006-7: Rajon Rondo
  • 2005-6: Chris Paul
  • 2004-5: Chris Duhon
  • 2003-4: Kirk Hinrich
  • 2002-3: Jay Williams
  • 2001-2: Jamaal Tinsley
  • 2000-1: Mateen Cleaves

As you can see, this list is a fairly mixed bag of superstars, stars, quality role players and a few busts, and includes some of the best point guards to ever play the game.

You have bonafide superstars like Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul and the generation that will replace them at the top of the point guard hierarchy in LaMelo Ball, Ja Morant and Trae Young.

You have very solid stars (at or near All-Star level) in Malcolm Brogdon, Ricky Rubio, John Wall, Mike Conley and Rajon Rondo.

You have a couple of guys who were derailed by injuries both mental and physical in Ben Simmons and Jay Williams and some good role players in Elfrid Payton, Chris Duhon, Kirk Hinrich and Jamaal Tinsley.

But of course, there are some busts and one-hit wonders sprinkled in with guys like Emmanuel Mudiay, Michael Carter-Williams and Mateen Cleaves, who has the honor of being the starting point guard of the Detroit Pistons’ all-time draft bust starting five.

So of the 21 players to lead rookies in total assists prior to Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, 33 percent of them are superstars or well on their way.

A solid 23 percent of them are stars who were at or near All-Star level, nine percent were derailed by injury, 19 percent became solid role players and just 14 percent were busts.

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee anything, but I like the odds that Cade and Ivey end up joining the first group and have a great chance to at least be in the second.

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