CADE CUNNINGHAM IS THE PERFECT PLAYER FOR THE CITY OF DETROIT

When the Detroit Pistons won the 2021NBA Draft lottery, I immediately thought about Oklahoma State freshman sensation Cade Cunningham taking his talents to the Land of Mile Roads, Belle Isle, Coney Islands and the unofficial home of Cartier glasses. 

Cartier frames are a status symbol and a staple of Detroit fashion and culture.

Detroit is widely known for flash and flare, while also being recognized as a blue collar, gritty town that epitomizes toughness. Think of it this way, when is the last time you've heard of a a player from Motown described as soft? 

 

Cade Cunningham is the perfect fit for a city like Detroit. He's smooth, fun to watch and will sell tickets and merchandise with his shifty ball handling and sweet shooting stroke. He's a crafty scorer that will dance on a defender and knock down a step back 3 on one possession, then bully a smaller opponent on the block and finish through contact at the rim on the next trip down the floor. The contrast epitomizes old school Detroit. 

Detroit would be foolish to over think this selection and pass up a talent like Cunningham. I've seen reports that Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is open to entertaining offers for the #1 pick. Weaver said there were “four or five guys” he would evaluate and consider drafting. 

I understand Weaver may not want to fully commit to a pick this early in the process, but in my humble opinion, Cade Cunningham is in his own tier and is the type of player that stabilizes a franchise.

At 6'8" 220 pounds, Cade is a matchup problem for opposing defenses as he can beat you inside or outside. Coming into the season everyone who's been following his prep career knew he could score and create for others. If there was a weakness he needed to address, it was his outside shooting. Whatever questions or doubts scouts had about his shooting were addressed in his dominant freshman season where he was voted First Team All American and Freshman of the Year by multiple publications.

 

 As a freshman he averaged 20.1 points per game while shooting 43.8% from the floor and 40% from deep. If you take a deep dive into his 3 point shooting percentage, you'll see was efficient on a high volume of attempts per game (5.7) while taking a good percentage of highly contested attempts off the dribble. 

54.8% of his 3 point attempts were unassisted, so his shot chart is full of difficult step back 3's where he had to create something out of nothing late in the shot clock.

Cade ranked in the top 90 percentile in college basketball on catch and shoot opportunities and averaged 1.298 points per possession. He connected on a blistering 47.1% of contested catch and shoot jumpers which ranked in the top 95 percentile in the nation. When left unguarded his percentage strangely dropped to 39.1% which brought his overall catch and shoot percentage to 43.9%.

What stood out to me the most about Cade's freshman season, is the work he put in during the spring and summer.

This is the type of work ethic that  will be loved and appreciated by the blue collar citizens of Detroit.

Rafael Barlowe - June 25, 2021

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Evan Mobley - USC

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CADE CUNNINGHAM TO MOTOWN

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CADE CUNNINGHAM  | POINT GUARD | OKLAHOMA STATE

The Pistons winning  the lottery and adding a special talent like Cade Cunningham is a big time boost for the organization and the city of Detroit. The hardest part of rebuilding is finding a centerpiece and Cunningham is the type of star a franchise can build around. Cunningham paired with a healthy Killian Hayes along with All Rookie Team members Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart gives Pistons fans hope of a return to the playoffs.

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EVAN MOBLEY | CENTER |  USC

Houston had the best odds of winning the 2021 NBA Draft lottery but ended up settling for 2nd place in the Cade Cunningham sweepstakes. Rockets fans were hoping to get the #1 pick, but also were concerned about losing their pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder if the pick fell out of the top 5. At #2 Houston could take a strong look at Jalen Green or Jalen Suggs, but will likely settle on USC center Evan Mobley to be the face of the post James Harden era.

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JALEN GREEN | SHOOTING GUARD  |  G-LEAGUE IGNITE

Cleveland has drafted guards in the lottery in two of their last three drafts and would be foolish to pass on a shotmaker like Jalen Green. It will be interesting to see if Collin Sexton is moved to the 6th man role many believe he's best suited to play. Sexton averaged 24.3 points per game this season, so it will be hard to justify bringing him off the bench in training camp. If Larry Drew can find a way to keep his young guards happy Cleveland could be one of the more exciting up and coming teams in the East.

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JALEN SUGGS | POINT GUARD |  GONZAGA

Jalen Suggs - Gonzaga

RECENTLY ADDED PROFILES

LUKA GARZA  | SENIOR | CENTER | IOWA

DALANO BANTON | SOPH | POINT GUARD | NEBRASKA

JAMES BOUKNIGHT | SOPH | SHOOTING GUARD | UCONN

JASON PRESTON | JUNIOR | POINT GUARD | OHIO

DREW TIMME | SOPH | CENTER | GONZAGA

TERRENCE SHANNON, JR | SOPH | TEXAS TECH

EVAN MOBLEY | FRESHMAN | CENTER | USC

JALEN SUGGS | FRESHMAN | POINT GUARD | GONZAGA

I'm a big fan of the Toronto Raptors player development program. Fred Van Vleet was undrafted coming out of Wichita State in 2016 and Pascal Siakam was the 27th pick in the same draft. Van Vleet is proven 20 points per game scorer and Siakam has developed into an NBA All Star. You can make a case and say no team has done more as far as helping their players maximize their potential than the 2019 NBA champions. Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs would be the most heralded player on the roster and would have big shoes to fill replacing Kyle Lowry who is expected to leave in free agency. Suggs has the potential to be a game changer on both ends of the floor.

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JONATHAN KUMINGA | FORWARD |  G-LEAGUE IGNITE

In my opinion Jonathan Kuminga in Orlando is a perfect fit. The Magic have a log jam at guard with Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton. Anthony and Hampton just completed their rookie seasons with Hampton winning Rookie Of The Month in May. Adding another guard would've created a really unbalanced roster, so it makes the most sense for Orlando to add a big wing with a huge upside. Kuminga is coming off a productive 13 game stint where he showed flashes of his potential and upside as an 18 year old competing in the G-League. Kuminga is the athletic multi positional defender that NBA teams covet and he should fit right in with Orlando's timeline.

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SCOTTIE BARNES | POINT FORWARD |  FLORIDA STATE

Many considered the 2021 NBA Draft class to be a 5 man draft with Cunningham, Mobley, Green, Suggs and Kuminga as locks to be selected in the top 5. In the last few weeks, Florida State freshman Scottie Barnes' name has been mentioned as the one player that could crack the top and this was prior to his measurements at the NBA combine. Barnes measured out at 6'8 225 lbs with a near 7'3" wingspan which is pretty impressive for a player who spent most of his freshman season as the lead guard. Barnes has the potential to be a versatile All NBA defender that can also initiate the offense and make everyone around him better. The Thunder have a ridiculous amount of draft picks in the new few years so they can be patient and wait on Barnes to improve his offensive game. The combination of Barnes and Aleksej Pokusevski could give the Thunder the most positionless front court of all time.

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DAVION MITCHELL | POINT GUARD |  BAYLOR

The Warriors are the rare lottery team that is in position to compete for a championship and is in win now mode. Golden State is likely to lean towards a prospect that is ready to contribute right away as opposed to a developmental project. Enter Baylor's Davion Mitchell who is fresh off a breakout junior season where his draft stocked increased after leading his team to a NCAA title. Although his age, size and concern about his shooting numbers are legit, Mitchell should be able to provide good rotation minutes. The Warriors are coming off their second straight season of missing the playoffs after five consecutive NBA finals appearances. Mitchell's defense and playmaking alone should have an impact. If his 3 point shooting translates to the NBA, Golden State could have their point guard of the future even though it does not look like Steph Curry is slowing down anytime soon.

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MOSES MOODY | WING |  ARKANSAS

After selecting Jonathan Kuminga with the 5th pick, the Magic can look to add additional wing depth with Arkansas freshman Moses Moody.  Moody is the typical 3 & D wing that has become so valuable in recent years. Orlando ranked near the bottom of the NBA in 3 pointers made, so a floor spacer with winning intangibles would be a welcomed addition in Disney World.

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JALEN JOHNSON | FORWARD |  DUKE

I believe this is a pivotal off season for the Kings who will be looking to end their 15 year playoff drought. 15 years! Last season's rookie, Tyrese Haliburton, outplayed his draft position and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. Sacramento would love to duplicate their success with the versatility of Jalen Johnson. Johnson may have to answer questions about his early departure from Duke, but his talent is hard to overlook. He's an athletic playmaker that excels in the open floor and reminds me of a poor man's Ben Simmons. He's not the same level of a passer as Simmons, but both thrive in rebound and run situations in transition and can defend multiple positions. 

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JAMES BOUKNIGHT | SHOOTING GUARD |  UCONN

James Bouknight was one of the best scorers in college basketball last season and his offensive arensal was on full display during his 40 point outburst vs Creighton in December. Unfortunately, he missed a a little over a month of his breakout season with an elbow injury that required surgery. Bouknight would give the Pelicans a  much needed shot creator in the backcourt and could be the ideal complimentary piece around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. New Orleans was one of the worst 3 point shooting teams in the league so they could take a long look at Gonzaga's Corey Kispert.

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KAI JONES | FORWARD/CENTER |  TEXAS

This maybe a reach for Texas sophomore Kai Jones, but I believe Charlotte should swing for the fences with their first of three picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. Jones is the epitome of a high risk and high reward prospect. He's still a little raw but he's shown enough flashes of potential to hear his name in the lottery. Jones is 6'11" with the coordination and fluidity of a guard which could be a real asset on the defensive end of the floor. He also connected on 38% of his 3 point attempts although it was on a low volume of attempts.

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ALPEREN SENGÜN | CENTER |  BESIKTAS (TURKEY)

At this time last year, Alperen Sengün was considered at best a second round prospect. Today he's a bonafide first round draft pick and possible lottery pick after a dominant season in Turkey. Sengün was arguably the best big man in Europe despite only being 18 years old. He has an old school game, wide body frame and touch around the rim that has drawn comparisons to 2021 NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. He's not on Jokic's level as a passer and shooter, but he's shown signs of being able to extend his shooting range. The Spurs have been in the late lottery the past 2 years and are in need of a legit #1 option on offense. Could Sengün be the next All Star post presence in San Antonio?

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KEON JOHNSON | SHOOTING GUARD |  TENNESSEE

It was definitely a difficult year in Indianapolis as the Pacers dealt with injuries to TJ Warren, Caris LeVert ,the center piece in the Victor Oladipo trade, and Myles Turner at the end of the season. To make matters worse the decision to fire Nate McMillan backfired big time. McMillan has lead the Hawks to the conference finals and the Pacers will be on their 3rd coach in the last 12 months as McMillan's replacement has been fired after one season. Indiana has a need for a wing and Tennessee freshman Keon Johnson is a raw but uber athletic defensive presence who's shown flashes of an playmaking and scoring ability.

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FRANZ WAGNER | FORWARD |  MICHIGAN

Michigan jack of all trades sophomore Franz Wagner would be the ideal complimentary player for the Golden State Warriors, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Wagner is a stat sheet stuffer on both ends of the floor that would provide the Warriors with depth at both forward spots and another ball mover/playmayer for their pass friendly offense.

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USMAN GARUBA | POWER FORWARD |  REAL MADRID (SPAIN)

Real Madrid's Usman Garuba will earn his minutes early in his NBA career with defense, energy and hustle. He's shown improvements as a shooter and had a few games where he knocked down multiple 3's. The most underrated part of Garuba's game is his passing, as he could be an effective roll man and short roll playmaker.

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JOSH GIDDEY | POINT GUARD |  ADELAIDE 36ERS (AUSTRALIA)

Sam Presti would be thrilled if Australian maestro Josh Giddey was available at #16. At 6'8 Giddey is an oversized point guard with exceptional vision and is a triple double threat every night. At only 18, Giddey has an advanced feel and is at his best in a free flowing fast paced offense.

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COREY KISPERT | SMALL FORWARD |  GONZAGA

Corey Kispert had a sensational senior season where he shot over 52% from the floor and 44% from deep. For most of the season he flirted with the super rare 50/45/90 shooting splits. Memphis would love to see Kispert fall this far as a lineup of Kispert, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson, Jr. would provide the floor spacing that would make Ja Morant even more dangerous. 

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ZIAIRE WILLIAMS | FORWARD |  STANFORD

Ziaire Williams had a difficult freshman season that played a role in his draft stock dropping out of the lottery after entering the season as a projected top 10 pick. At the beginning of the season, Williams played with a bulky knee brace and often settled for contested jumpshots. Williams measured a little under 6'10" at the NBA combine which should help scouts overlook his inefficient production this season, as he showed flashes of shot making ability and passing instincts rarely seen at that size.

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TRE MANN | COMBO GUARD |  FLORIDA

The New York Knicks were one of the biggest surprises of the regular season under first year coach Tom Thibodeau, finishing the season as the 4th seed in the Eastern conference. One of their glaring needs was at point guard where outside of Derrick Rose they lacked a shot creator. Tre Mann is not only a shot maker, but he's one of the best at creating off the dribble. Mann shot 40% from deep this season and only 31% of his 3 point his attempts were assisted.

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SHARIFE COOPER | POINT GUARD |  AUBURN

Auburn's Sharife Cooper was in my opinion the most exciting and electric player in all of college basketball this season. Despite only playing 12 games due to an NCAA investigation, Cooper did enough to earn a first round grade and is easily one of the most divisive prospects in this draft class. Cooper is blur in the open floor and an excellent passer that creates easy opportunities for teammates. His jump shot is a concern as he only shot 22.8% from 3 and 39.1% from the floor. Trae Young and Sharife Cooper on the same team would be Must See TV.

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ISAIAH JACKSON | CENTER |  KENTUCKY

I don't think anyone would have predicted that Isaiah Jackson would be the first Kentucky Wildcat off the board in the 2021 NBA Draft. Jackson has the potential to be a dominant shot blocker due to his bouncy athleticism and 7'5' wingspan. Nerlens Noel was a strong defensive presence for the Knicks this past season and will more than likely have interest from other teams this summer, which could open the door for Jackson to earn minutes.

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CHRIS DUARTE | GUARD |  OREGON

The Lakers finished a disappointing injury plagued season with a first round loss to the Phoenix Suns and will be looking to upgrade their roster this summer. One of the main areas I expect the Lakers to address is shooting at the wing. Oregon's Chris Duarte is coming off a strong senior season where he shot over 50% from the floor and 42% from 3. At 24 years old, Duarte is more NBA ready than most of this draft class which should benefit the win now Lakers.

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JADEN SPRINGER | GUARD |  TENNESSEE

Tennessee freshman guard Jaden Springer had a solid freshman season where he averaged 12.5 points per game along with 3.5 rebounds and a shade under 3 assists per game while shooting 43.5% from deep. Springer as the size and frame to defend both guard spots and would give the Rockets another young switchy defender to play with #2 overall pick Evan Mobley.

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GREG BROWN | FORWARD |  TEXAS

Texas freshman forward Greg Brown is a first round pick more so based off his potential and freakish athletic ability than his production on the floor. Brown had an up and down season and did not live up to the expectations placed on him as a 5 star recruit. He's a project that will need time and the Rockets have a track record of developing players with their G-League affiliate in the Rio Grande Valley.

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TREY MURPHY  III | FORWARD |  VIRGINIA

The Clippers were one of the best 3 point shooting teams in the NBA last season so why not add another floor spacer to make life easier for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George? Virginia's Trey Murphy III has been climbing up draft boards of late after a breakout junior season where he finished with 50/43/92 shooting splits.

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CAM THOMAS | GUARD |  LSU

LSU'S Cam Thomas is a big time scorer and shot maker that averaged over 23 points per game as a freshman. His game is an acquired taste as he's more of a scorer than shooter and not much of a playmaker. Thomas just has a knack for for putting the ball in the basket as he averaged over 7 attempts from 3 and 7 free throw per game.

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CHARLES BASSEY | CENTER |  WESTERN KENTUCKY

Charles Bassey was a highly regarded recruit coming high school that many expected to enter the 2019 NBA Draft after his freshman season. A broken tibia after 10 games  shortened his second year at Western Kentucky and hushed a lot of the draft buzz around his name. Bassey had a solid junior season where he averaged 17.6 points 11 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. Size was one of the biggest concerns for the Nets and Bassey would bring a physical paint presence to Brooklyn.

JARED BUTLER | POINT GUARD |  BAYLOR

One of Philly's biggest issues in the playoffs was they lacked a true floor general. Adding another ball handler that can make open shots would be beneficial to the 76ers if their roster stays as is. Butler, fresh off a national championship, would also give Philly another plus defender.

BONES HYLAND | GUARD |  VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH

Phoenix's future is a bright as the Sun in the Arizona desert with Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton as their franchise cornerstones. I don't think anyone expected Phoenix to be in position to reach their first NBA finals since the Charles Barkley era. I also don't believe any thought Virginia Commonwealth's Nah, Shon "Bones" Hyland would be a first round pick. Bones solidified himself as one of the best scorers in the draft after a strong showing at the Pre Draft camp in Chicago.

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AYO DOSUMNU  | GUARD |  ILLINOIS

The Jazz could look to add depth in the backcourt with Illinois combo guard Ayo Dosumnu. Dosumnu filled the stat sheet and was one of the best guards in the country this season after flirting with the NBA draft last summer. Utah has a decision to make on Mike Conley this summer so I expect them to use their 1st round pick on a guard.

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