We finally got a chance to see Cade Cunningham in a No. 2 Detroit Pistons jersey. With that, comes the opportunity to analyze his game on an NBA floor against NBA competition. I want to EMPHASIZE that this is simply a breakdown of what I saw in this one game and not an overreaction one way or the other.
I’m not saying that because I saw something I deem a “negative” and believe he was the wrong pick or will have an awful rookie season. I am equally not saying that because I saw something that impressed me as a sure sign he is going to the Hall of Fame. We are one game into his professional career. ... BUT I did want to take a look at a few things we saw from that one game.
In general, I thought Cade Cunningham was “as advertised” even with him not shooting the ball particularly well after a hot start. There were three areas of his scoring that stood out to me in this game in one way or another. His 3-point shooting, which as I mentioned, started out hot and then cooled down considerably. His post up game, which we did not get the full experience due to fouls or inability to get him the ball, but is something I think we are going to see plenty of in his rookie year. Finally, his to-the-rim game and, in particular, how he handled playing through contact.
***I apologize for the “grainy” video footage. I am in Vegas and not able to create these the way I normally do***
Continuing on the offensive side of the ball, we got our first look at Cade using ball screens. Admittedly, he was not working with guys that we will most likely see during the season (Olynyk, Stewart, Grant) but it still gave us an idea of where he was at. He has already mastered “putting guys in jail,” and I thought he had multiple possessions of playing with great pace. His assists numbers do not highlight some of the passing he showed, BUT I do think we may have seen him predetermine some decisions as you can see in the breakdown.
Cade in the Pick and Roll
Finally, I wanted to take a look at the other side of the ball where Cade himself emphasized how important that end of the court is. Again, there were positives and negatives but being lucky enough to be in attendance, the thing that stood out to me the most was how vocal he was. We have already seen multiple examples since the draft of his “leadership,” and I thought that was something on display Monday night on the defensive end.
Cade on Defense
The excitement for Cade Cunningham on Pistons Twitter and in the Thomas and Mack Arena was incredible and contagious and nothing that happened in this game should deter anyone from that excitement. Even with the poor shooting performance, in what I think looked like tired legs in the second half, you saw many aspects of his game that made him the No. 1 pick. Room for improvement? Of course. My best guess? We will see him make those and be even better against Houston in a highly anticipated matchup against No. 2 pick Jalen Green.