Cade Cunningham was enjoying a strong start to his second season in the NBA in 2022-23 – averaging 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists over his first 12 games – before suffering a stress fracture in his left shin which required season-ending surgery. But teammate Jaden Ivey has no concerns about the impact the 2021 number one pick will have upon his return to the Detroit Pistons' starting lineup this season.
“I think a lot of people are going to be shocked what he brings to the fore,” Ivey said when asked about his teammates' return. “He's going to have a special season this season. He gives us a certain energy that we need to get that team going. From day one that he was drafted he brought that for us.”
It's some glowing praise from Jaden Ivey, who was taken with the fifth pick the year after Cunningham was drafted. Interestingly, with Cunningham out Ivey was forced to pick up a lot of the ball-handling slack, and while he did a reasonable job at times he'll likely benefit from having Cunningham there to take on more of the load. In college, Ivey averaged just 1.9 assists in his first season at Purdue and 3.1 in his second, so the 5.2 he averaged in his first season in the NBA showed a significant change in role – and was perhaps unsurprisingly accompanied by a relatively high 3.2 turnovers per night.
With Cade Cunningham back on the floor, Killian Hayes will be presumably sent to the bench and the Pistons will have a much more offensively potent starting five. Having won just 17 games last year, expectations surrounding the team in 2023-24 won't exactly be sky-high, but they are slowly beginning to put together a reasonable compilation of talent, and with Cunningham at the helm they should be winning a few more games in the upcoming season.