The Detroit Pistons needed someone to step up with Cade Cunningham missing multiple games due to a left shin injury. Cunningham, a 19.9 points-per-game scorer for the Pistons, has missed the last four games.
In Cunningham’s absence, both Bojan Bogdanović and Jaden Ivey have stepped up for Detroit over the past four games. The Pistons are 0-4 in the games Cunningham has missed, but they have been competitive in two of them. Bogdanović and Ivey are a big reason for that.
Bojan Bogdanović has taken the reigns as the Detroit Pistons’ leading scorer
Bogdanović has scored 25, 28, 18 and 26 points in each of Detroit’s past four games. He is averaging 24.3 points per game while shooting 55 percent from the floor and 29.2 percent from beyond the arc. That is a significant jump from his 19.3 points per game before Cunningham’s injury.
Bogdanović is scoring from everywhere on the floor. He is shooting 72.7 percent off drive attempts in the past four games. His catch-and-shoot numbers have dipped. Bogdanović went from 46.2 percent on catch-and-shoot threes pre-Cunningham injury to 25 percent over the past four games.
The veteran forward has taken advantage of the extra scoring opportunities with Cunningham missing time, but his efficiency has taken a hit as a result. The 33-year-old is not getting as many open looks at the basket as he did with a healthy Cunningham in the lineup with him.
Jaden Ivey has jumped in scoring as well for the Detroit Pistons
Without Cunningham in the lineup, Ivey has been provided more responsibility as a lead-ball handler in Detroit’s starting unit. The 20-year-old rookie has flashed many times while still making his fair share of mistakes at others. It seems like Ivey is pushing the pace even more with Cunningham out of the lineup. This could be because the rookie is more comfortable after 16 games in the NBA, but it could also be because without Cunningham he has more control of the offense.
Ivey is averaging 18.8 points per game, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in Cunningham’s absence. He is shooting 41.3 percent from the floor and 31.6 percent from beyond the arc. Pre-Cunningham injury, Ivey was averaging 15.4 points per game, albeit on slightly more efficient shooting.
With more ball-handling responsibility, Ivey’s turnovers have jumped from 2.2 per game to four per game. For every dazzling pass he makes on the court, he makes at least one head-scratching decision with the ball. He is still prone to throwing the ball out to no one in particular, and he still attacks the basket with no plan on what to do when he gets there at times. He is playing like a rookie. An incredibly talented rookie, but still a rookie.
Despite his dip in scoring efficiency with Cunningham out, Ivey is still shooting 40 percent on catch-and-shoot threes and 42.9 percent on pull-up threes. He is shooting 50 percent on pull-up jumpers as a whole.
The Detroit Pistons need Cade Cunningham back
This is nothing against Bogdanović and Ivey. Both players have played well in Cunningham’s absence. However, it is clear that this team desperately needs its start player back. With Cunningham in the lineup, there is a good chance the Pistons beat both the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit’s two close losses during his absence.
Cunningham provides steady scoring and playmaking that Bogdanović and Ivey are not able to provide on their own. The gravity that Cunningham has on opposing defenses opens up both of Detroit’s other leading scorers with better opportunities.
However, Cunningham is going to miss at least one more game. The sophomore point guard is set to be re-evaluated after the Pistons’ game against the 3-10 Los Angeles Lakers today, Nov. 18.
If all bodes well, Cunningham will be back in the lineup before the Pistons take on the Sacramento Kings in the third game of their six-game road trip. If all is not well, Bogdanović and Ivey could have to carry the load for a bit longer.
Featured Image Credit: AP Photo/Morry Gash