The Athletics’ Shams Chandira reported that the Houston Rockets have been aggressive in their pursuit of the number one pick from the Detroit Pistons. The Rockets, just like most teams, are very interested in Cade Cunningham. Cunningham is known to be the best player in this years NBA Draft.
While many believe that the Pistons should consider other players to draft. Such as Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Green. Others like myself believe that Cunningham is the player the Pistons should draft. So, let’s settle the debate on why Cunningham is far ahead from the rest of the top players in the draft.
Cunningham vs. Suggs
Cunningham and Suggs are known for their high IQ on the offensive side of the floor.
Suggs is one of the best transition players in this year’s draft. He can do it all on fast breaks, from getting down to the rim to passing the ball from half-court. Suggs averaged 5.2 transition points and was second in the WCC last season.
Cunningham is a master at pick and rolls and isolation. He averaged 5.0 points per game in the pick and roll and 3.5 points in isolation. Cunningham can screen and roll to either shoot the ball or pass to an open teammate. He can also create his shots as he was the number one isolation player in the entire country.
What makes Cunningham’s ceiling higher than Suggs is Cunningham’s aggression. Cunningham isn’t afraid to not only drive down to the rim and score. Suggs is not as aggressive to go down to the rim. Instead, he prefers to score from 3-point land. Suggs will struggle to find open shot opportunities other than from three. I can’t see the Pistons drafting Suggs, especially since the team needs a playmaker rather than just a scorer.
Cunningham vs. Mobley
Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham are both known for being unstoppable on the defensive end.
Mobley was the best rim protector in the entire NCAA. Last season, he averaged 3.0 blocks per game and only averaged 1.8 fouls per game. Not only can he block shots, but he is a rebounding machine. Mobley ranked first in the Pac-12 with 8.6 rebounds per game.
Not only can Cunningham be dangerous on the offensive side of the ball. But he is an elite defender as well. Cunningham has a 7-foot wingspan that allows him to guard any player on the floor. His lengthy wingspan allows him to steal the ball and grab rebounds. Last season, he averaged 1.4 steals and 6.0 rebounds per game.
The reason why I would draft Cunningham over Mobley is based on the history of drafting big men. In the last few years, most of the big men in the top 3 have dominated the game. Most of them have also been injured a lot in their careers. Or they’re a complete bust. It’s a significant risk, taking a big man over a guard, especially with today’s style of play. The Pistons already have plenty of centers on the roster, including Isaiah Stewart and Mason Plumlee. So I do not expect the Pistons even to bother to draft Mobley over Cunningham.
Cunningham vs. Green
Cunningham vs. Green has been the most extensive debate amongst scouts. But, there is a significant difference in their playing styles.
Green is an athletic and explosive player. From his quick speed down the floor to his high-flying dunks. Also, he isn’t afraid to score down in the paint. In the G-League, he shot 69.1% from 5 ft to the basket. The best player compared to Green is Zach Lavine. Lavine is known for his quick speed and athleticism on the floor, just like Green.
Cunningham is one of the most lethal scorers in the game. He can do it all on the shooting end of the game. At Oklahoma State, he averaged 20.1 points and shot 40% from the 3-point line. He is one of the most dangerous players on the offensive side of the ball. His style of play is related to Luka Doncic. Just like Doncic, he is an elite clutch scorer. He ranked number one in clutch points in the nation, and Big-12 with 103 clutch points scored.
Both Cunningham and Green are generational and franchise changing players. I see why the Pistons have been back and forth between the two players. What makes Cunningham a better prospect than Green is that he is the safer pick.
Green is more athletic and explosive than Cunningham. But Green isn’t as built and muscular as Cunningham. Cunningham has the strength to drive in the paint without being as athletic. The debate between Green and Cunningham is a lot closer than people think. But at the end of the day, I see the Pistons drafting Cunningham unless the Pistons get an intense offer to trade down.