SLAM x Panini Rookie Spotlight: Detroit Pistons Guard Cade Cunningham
Newbies will have a hard time. They will make mistakes. They will cross the ball and miss a lot of shots and have a hard time defending. That’s just the way it goes. The transition to the NBA was smoother for some, but it was never completely smooth. There will be unexpected, perhaps jarring, bumps in the road. It all comes down to being a scammer.
Struggles shouldn’t be ignored entirely, but they shouldn’t be taken too seriously either. However, NBA fans can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to the latter. I suppose overreacting and spewing hot scenes is the kind of fun? It definitely catches everyone’s attention. And also, if you’re not overreacting a little, what are you doing on NBA Twitter in Mid-November, except for splitting clips about fan vomiting flirting and wild change?
All of that brings us to the heart of today’s Rookie Spotlight: Cade Cunningham’s No. 1 pick overall. According to many on social media, he was clearly bankrupt after the first few games in the NBA. Cunningham missed the start of the season with an ankle injury and really struggled to get back into rhythm when he returned. In his first three outings, the new face of the Pistons shot just 18 percent off the field and took a 1-21 lead from behind the arc. Twitter went crazy. Critics are ready to sound the alarm and activate the commercial machine. Posts like this and headlines like, “Should the Detroit Pistons be worried about Cade Cunningham?” began to flood the internet.
No, they shouldn’t be worried. Of course they shouldn’t worry. As Jalen Rose pointed out here, so many future NBA legends have struggled to find scope early in their careers. And they’ve all been hit with similar outrageous acts (Tracy McGrady’s coach even told him he was leaving the NBA in 3 years or less).
Cunningham is a 220-pound, 6-8 point guard who can score at all three levels, create favorable conditions for others, rebound like a big man and defend multiple positions. position in defence. And guess? After a string of bad games, he also played some really good games. He dropped 20 points and went 4-8 deep in his win over the Rockets. He exploded on 8/25/8 and hit 5 three-pointers against the Kings, becoming the youngest player (20 years, 51 days) in NBA history give that status line. Facing the number 1 defense of the league (Golden State), he scored 19 points (6/12 starting from the start), 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Two days later, on a bad night against the Lakers, Cunningham scored his first double as a professional (13 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists).
“I didn’t pay too much attention to what was being said after I got off to a slow start,” Cunningham wrote recently, as part of the diary series for The Invincibles. “I am not going to let it defeat me or change my way of thinking. But I certainly know what is being said, and I try to move accordingly. I feel like someone would be a liar if they said they didn’t know what was being said about them. But at the same time, I don’t base myself on how I derive other people’s opinions from the outside. I’m the type of person that gets better every day, and I think that’s why I have a quick change.
“A lot of people tried to say that I was a bust. I think that’s pretty funny in my eyes,” he added. “That’s what I noticed. Like: ‘Okay. Well, we’ll have to see about it. ‘”
When you watch Cunningham play, a few things stand out immediately: 1) Even in the NBA, he looks as big as a main ball holder. He uses that size to survey the floor, shoot past defenders and shoot in the box effectively. 2) He can control the flow of the game and doesn’t move like a normal rookie – meaning he never shows any hesitation, frenzy or loss of control, although he does sometimes Be careless with the ball. His speed is very methodical. 3) As the numbers suggest, he does everything a little to help his team.
His effectiveness so far would be a much bigger concern – perhaps even worthy of those outrageous actions – if it weren’t clear, based on his past, that Cunningham maybe a reliable and consistent shooter. It may take some time to make it to the NBA, but he’s certainly capable. At Oklahoma State, he averaged 20.1 points and hit 40% from three shots over 5.7 times per game. And he has no shortage of confidence in that jump – as of the time of this writing, more than half of his total FGAs are third.
But again, even with his struggles, Cade found a way to have an impact. Just imagine when he’s really settled into life.
“Right now he’s just a kid studying about the League. I’m not making excuses for him, but if you miss a month of training camp and try to perform, it’s tough,” said Pistons head coach Duane Casey amid the initial struggles of the Pistons. Cunningham, via Rod Beard of Detroit News. “This is not a place he could be – and will be – as a player.”
So be patient. Don’t overreact. Keep posting fights (especially if they involve a ) show incredible strength and athleticism of Cunningham to keep his teammate, Isaiah Stewart, back) and silly fan videos. Save hot time. And watch as Cade slowly comes to understand that. It started happening.
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