Cade Cunningham, disappointment, superstars and Anthony Edwards

Detroit Pistons v Washington Wizards
Detroit Pistons v Washington Wizards / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

When the Detroit Pistons drafted Cade Cunningham with the #1 pick, they hoped they were getting a future superstar to build around. 

The same was true of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Anthony Edwards the year before, as Minnesota had also tanked to just 19 wins to secure the best shot at the top pick. 

Edwards is now leading his team in the playoffs, while Cade Cunningham just led the worst season in Pistons’ history. 

When it comes to the narrative around these two players, one (Edwards) is considered a star already, a future superstar and possible MVP candidate, while the other (Cunningham) is still considered a work in progress, a good player, but not yet a star, with a chance he never will be.

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The perception of these two is much different among fans, but if you look at the numbers, they really aren’t that far apart, which should give Pistons fans hope. 

Cade Cunningham vs. Anthony Edwards 

There are two things separating these two players when it comes to perception and how people view their ceilings. The first is games played. Ant has played at least 72 games in all four seasons of his career, logging 72 apiece in his first two seasons and 79 each in the two after. 

Cunningham has yet to play even 65 games in a season, appearing in 64, then 12 and 62 this year. If Cunningham wants to get the kind of respect that Edwards gets, he has to play more games. Edwards has made it a point to play as many as possible and talked about how much he hates “load management” and taking nights off. 

The second thing is winning. After enduring one 23-win season in his rookie year, Edwards has made it to the playoffs three years in a row and put up big numbers even though his team has yet to get out of the first round. 

He had them near the top of the Western Conference and this could be the year they break through. 

Cade hasn’t sniffed the playoffs, and the Pistons have been the worst team in the league in two of his three seasons. This is certainly not Cade’s fault, as he barely played last year, and unlike Edwards, the Pistons have done little to build around Cade. 

While the Timberwolves were out getting big-time players like Rudy Gobert, the Pistons were snagging guys like Marvin Bagley III and James Wiseman. The Timberwolves immediately committed to building around Ant and the Pistons have yet to make that kind of commitment to Cade. 

Other than games played and won, their stats are very similar, as Edwards has averaged 22.9 points, 4.1 assists and 5.2 rebounds on 44.6 percent shooting from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range for his career, while Cade is 20/6.5/5 in those same categories on 43 percent shooting and 33 percent from long range on a nearly identical number of attempts. 

The two players have both been very good, but the perception around Cunningham won’t get to where Edward’s is until he plays and wins more games, which starts by getting the man some help this offseason.