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Pistons vs. Thunder preview: Cade Cunningham takes on Josh Giddey

A battle between the best passers in the draft class

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder are not only the two worst teams in the NBA over the past 10 games, but they are both coming into tonight’s matchup shorthanded. The Pistons will be without Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph and Hamidou Diallo while the Thunder will be without the services of Shai Gilgeous Alexander. That means the Pistons will be without perhaps their three most important reserves while the Thunder will be out the best player on either team.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons -5


Both teams are 1-9 in their past 10 games and feature the worst net rating in the NBA over that span with the Thunder at -12.7 thanks to the league’s most hapless offense (98.7 points per 100 possessions) and the Pistons at -9.9 with the league’s second most incompetent offense (100.8). In other words, this game will not be for the faint of heart. But if you squint there is something interesting on the horizon. The game pits the top two passers in the 2021 NBA Draft class with Josh Giddey (5.8 assists per game) going against Cade Cunningham (4.6).

It’s interesting that these two could end up being the most prolific passers in the draft because neither are truly point guards and play off ball with Cunningham listed at 6-foot-6 and Giddey at 6-foot-8. A difference in the early going of their first years — Cade has a major turnover issue while Giddey has not only shown creativity and adeptness at passing the ball, but he’s limited his turnovers as well.

Cunningham has a close to 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ration with 4.6 assists to 3.7 turnovers (tops in his draft class), while Giddey’s ratio is closer to that ideal 3-to-1 with just 2.8 turnovers to go with his 5.8 assists.

The Australian guard has missed the Thunder’s last two games, but should be available for tonight’s matchup. If he doesn’t play, well, the Thunder are a lot less compelling. You’ll get a chance to see Luguentz Dort whose breakout allowed the Thunder to trade Diallo to Detroit. There is also rookie Tre Mann who is moderately interesting and then, of course, there is always Aleksej Pokusevski. He’s only playing 14.1 minutes per game so don’t take many bathroom breaks.

Projected Lineup

Detroit Pistons (4-18)

Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Oklahoma City Thunder (6-16)

Ty Jerome, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

Question of the Day

Which of these teams has the better roster for the future today without taking into account future draft collateral?