Welcome to the Rookie of the Year race. The presumptive front-runner this year is Evan Mobley, who looks to be a generationally excellent defensive player with plenty of offense in his game as well. He’s helped the Cleveland Cavaliers vault from near the bottom to the top of the conference in just one season. Not that he’s done it alone. He’s playing alongside breakout players Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen.
Cade Cunningham, meanwhile, it still sort of waiting for reinforcements to arrive. Cunningham is starting to make some headway in this Rookie of the Year race, but he’s got a large hill to climb, and it’s not going to come in the form of victories. The Pistons remain one of the worst teams in the NBA, and it’s because outside of Cade, Detroit’s offense is pretty anemic. It doesn’t help he’s playing without Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk (both out vs. the Cavs), but even when they’ve been around Detroit’s offense is a mess.
Even with that, Cunningham is showing people why he was the No. 1 overall pick, and as great as Mobley has been this season you won’t find too many people regretting the Cunningham selection among Detroit fans. He’s a natural leader, dictates the pace of the game, has the makings of a player who can score at all three levels, be a primary playmaker and get his teammates involved and be a positive on the defensive end of the floor. Like Mobley, he seems to possess gifts rarely found in a single player.
Will Detroit win today? Probably not. But hopefully, he got all his misses out against the Orlando Magic, where he went just 3-of-17 from the floor for 8 points. All I want on this snowy Sunday in Michigan is for Cade to go shot for shot with Mobley and make this an exciting peek inside the Rookie of the Year race.
When: 6 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +8
Detroit Pistons (11-37)
Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Haidou Diallo, Isaiah Stewart
Cleveland Cavaliers (30-19)
Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Question of the Game
What is the first season both Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham will be playing in the NBA All-Star game?