5 craziest Cade Cunningham highlights every Pistons fan needs to see
Cade Cunningham has arrived. The 6’8″ guard from Oklahoma State was a foregone conclusion to be the Detroit Piston’s selection on Thursday’s NBA Draft, and, sure enough, Adam Silver announced that Cunningham would indeed be heading to join Detroit’s struggling young core. For Pistons fans, the excitement has been palpable all over the media, but for a team whose best player last year was Jerami Grant, and who haven’t made the playoffs since they were swept in the first round during the 2015-2016 season as they were led by Andre Drummond, the question remains: will he be enough to turn around this struggling franchise?
Fear not, though, Pistons nation, as these five highlights from Cunningham are sure to cast any of your doubts aside in favor of jaws dropped.
Defense Wins Championships
Though Cunningham has countless offensive sequences to fill his highlight reels, the attribute that sets him apart is his defensive awareness. He’s drawn comparisons to Paul George, and it’s easy to see why on this play. In a crucial game against the then-no. 6-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, Cunningham came with veteran footwork on strong-side help, and showed off a vertical that allowed him to not only stuff the shot, but also keep it close enough to save from going out-of-bounds. Cunningham then maintained the presence of mind to keep cool and immediately look up to fire an on-target pass to a teammate, setting up an and-1 and the eventual upset.
Range off the Dribble
Once again facing a higher-ranked opponent in then-no.6 ranked Texas, Cunningham commanded the ball in double-overtime in a close game, stopped on a dime, and dropped in a silky-smooth three ball reminiscent of Jayson Tatum. Though Cunningham’s jumper isn’t quite at the level of the league’s best scorers today, he’s certainly shown the work ethic and the flashes of potential to become a complete scorer. As for Texas, don’t forget what Mark Jackson always says. Hand down, man down.
Tough Finishing in the Paint
I know the Paul George comparisons have been nonstop, but it’s simply all there. Against future Cinderalla-story dancers Oral Roberts, Cade attacks the basket with ferocity, while also maintaining incredible body control. Though he beats his defender off the dribble, he knows he hasn’t created quite enough separation to get an easy layup, so he creates hangtime and double-clutches anticipating the contact from the defender on his hip. The contact comes, and he maintains the upper body strength to easily finish through it.
Wizard With The Rock
Cade Cunningham also possesses vision beyond his years. Of course, as a 6’8″ point guard, he naturally draws comparisons to guys like Luka Doncic and Magic Johnson. While he may not be the passer that those guys are quite yet, plays like the one above show the limitless potential he has as a passer. While he comes off the pick and sees the weak-side defender helping too closely, he whips a skip pass much in the same way LeBron James regularly does: early, accurately, and with velocity. These kinds of passes only become more useful in the NBA, where shooters with quick releases and elite precision knock them down regularly.
And, of course, what every fan looks for in a player: do they have that clutch gene? As Cade as shown repeatedly in big games this past season, he is certainly capable of knocking down big shots when his team needs it. This play against Arkansas is a perfect example of what he’s capable of doing under pressure. He attacks the defense as two defenders show help on the strong side, and he still has the audacity to stop on a dime and pull up for the jumper, regardless of whether they come to contest or not. When the defenders ultimately sag off, it simply makes it too easy for the NBA’s next big thing.
Rest of the league watch out. And Pistons fans, get excited.