Cade Cunningham has been ruled out for the Detroit Pistons next four games with shin soreness, the team announced Saturday. He will be re-evaluated in one week, the team announced, but is set to miss games against a contest tonight against the Boston Celtics and games against the Toronto Raptors, LA Clippers and LA Lakers. Cunningham sat out the team’s Friday night loss to the New York Knicks. It is unclear if he will travel with the team as it starts its West Coast road trip that begins with the two LA games and then goes to Sacramento, Denver, Utah and ends in Phoenix.
Cunningham played his worst game of the season on Nov. 9 against the Celtics, shooting just 1-of-11 from the floor and struggling to get inside the paint, and instead mostly relying on contested jump shots. He finished with four points, three rebounds, two assists and two turnovers.
When the team announced he would miss the game against the Knicks the poor outing against the Celtics made a little more sense. With the team sitting at 3-10 there is little need to rush him back to the lineup.
In Cunningham’s absence, Dwane Casey started Cory Joseph against the Knicks. Casey, it seemed, didn’t want to disrupt the bench chemistry, especially as he was also working in Alec Burks, who made his season debut against the Knicks,
Joseph, who had played 21 total minutes in Detroit’s previous five games, struggled and committed four fouls in five ineffective minutes. With Joseph sitting, Killian Hayes stepped into the lineup and gave the Pistons a bit of a spark with his defense, passing and even a little bit of scoring.
Hayes scored 11 points in the first half against the Knicks, his second strong game in a row. He cooled in the second half, going scoreless, but his defense remained strong, and the ball moved better in Killian’s hands than when the team asked rookie Jaden Ivey to carry the offense.
With Cunningham set to miss a bit of an extended period, it will be interesting to see how Casey adjusts the lineup. Burks was strong, if a bit rusty in his first game of the season. His 17 points were second only to Bojan Bogdanovic. He could slot Burks in as a starting shooting guard and ask either Jaden Ivey or Hayes to start at point guard with Burks as secondary ball handler and perimeter threat. He could simply go back to the veteran Joseph on the premise he’s not going to deliver a performance as bad as the one in New York. Or he could start Ivey and Hayes together. That one seems ... sub-optimal considering neither has much in the way of a reliable jump shot at the moment.
So far this season, Cunningham is averaging 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6 assists.