Cade Cunningham Is No. 1 Pick For Pistons in N.B.A. Draft
The Detroit Pistons, a franchise that has spent most of the last decade in the NBA wilderness, will rest their rescue hopes on 19-year-old Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham.
Detroit selected Cunningham with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night in Brooklyn, hoping he will help the team come out of one of the toughest stretches in its history. The Pistons have only made the playoffs twice in the past 12 seasons and haven’t won a playoff since 2008.
There is already a nickname that is gaining ground for Cunningham in Detroit: “Motor Cade”. After being drafted, Cunningham, in an on-air interview with ESPN, looked straight into the camera and said, “Detroit Pistons, I’m on top of it. Let’s do it.”
Cunningham was widely regarded as the best prospect available, but Detroit general manager Troy Weaver did not publicly reveal his hand in the days leading up to the draft, beyond saying the team were considering five players. After the pick, Weaver told reporters the team finalized their decision to select Cunningham on Thursday and said the draft was “a great night for the Pistons.”
“It’s a human connector on the ground, out of the ground,” Weaver said of Cunningham. “With his advanced skills, the winning basketball he plays and always has played, landing on him has been a huge honor for us to be able to bring in such a young and accomplished player.”
After Cunningham came off the board, the Houston Rockets drafted Jalen Green from the G League Ignite with the No.2 pick, and the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Evan Mobley of Southern California at No.3. Night came when the Toronto Raptors picked Florida State’s Scottie Barnes at No.4 over Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, who fell to the Orlando Magic at No.5.
A native of Arlington, Texas, Cunningham played a year at Oklahoma State, averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He won the Big 12 Player of the Year award, having led the conference in scoring, and has been praised for his versatility in attack and defense. The No. 4 seeded Cunningham Cowboys were upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament by the No. 12 seed of Oregon State. At Montverde Academy in Florida, Cunningham won the title of Naismith High School Player of the Year.
Last week, Cunningham – listed at 6-foot-8 – said he modeled his game on those of Penny Hardaway, Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd, guards known for their all-round skills. He also comes from a family of athletes: his brother Cannen played basketball at Southern Methodist, and as an assistant coach for Oklahoma State he helped recruit him. This spring, Cannen stepped down as an assistant coach to manage his brother’s NBA career. Their father, Keith, played soccer at Texas Tech.
If there was any uncertainty as to where Cunningham would land, that didn’t seem to exist with the player himself. Cunningham told reporters he hasn’t met the Rockets. In addition to meeting the brass from the Pistons, Cunningham attended a Detroit Tigers home game, where fans chanted, “We want Cade!”
“I wanted to meet the team that had the No.1 pick because I feel like I was the No.1 pick,” Cunningham said last week. “So I met Detroit. They are the ones who have the choice. If the Rockets are going for the No.1 pick, then, you know, maybe I’ll meet them if there’s enough time.
Cunningham will join a Pistons team that finished last season 20-52, the second-worst record in the league. But there were a few bright spots, like the game of 27-year-old forward Jerami Grant, who had a career year, and Killian Hayes, last year’s 20-year-old Pistons lottery pick, who has showed bursts of star potential. as a playmaker.
The Knicks had two first-round picks entering the draft. The first came at No.19, when the team selected forward Kai Jones, who played two college seasons in Texas. Two picks later, the Knicks selected goaltender Keon Johnson, who played for a year at Tennessee.
The Nets had the 27th pick, which they used to select goaltender Cameron Thomas, who spent one season at Louisiana State.
Halfway through the first round, Commissioner Adam Silver paid tribute to Terrence Clarke, the 19-year-old University of Kentucky basketball star who was killed in a car crash in April. He was to be drafted in the first round. Silver announced that Clarke was drafted into the league with an honorary first-round pick. Clarke’s family members appeared on stage with Silver as the crowd at Barclays Center chanted Clarke’s name.
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