Shortly after learning his team won the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday, Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said there are as many as four or five players he could select with the No. 1 pick.
The Pistons will continue doing their due diligence on all the top prospects, but when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announces the top pick on July 29, it’s a slam-dunk that Cade Cunningham’s name will be called.
At least that is what mock drafts rolled out within hours of the lottery results are projecting – unanimously.
Cunningham is a game-changer who is too good to pass up for the Pistons. The 6-8, 220-pound point guard from Oklahoma State is sure to accelerate what Weaver calls a “restoration” of the franchise. He is widely projected as a future star.
Cunningham can score at all three levels (at the rim, mid-range and beyond the arc). He averaged 20.1 points in his lone college season, shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, putting to rest concerns about his shooting ability. He also averaged 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
He would join several promising young players that Weaver drafted in 2020 (Killian Hayes at No. 7, Isaiah Stewart at No. 16, Saddiq Bey at No. 19, and Saben Lee at No. 38) and coach Dwane Casey provided opportunities for as rookies.
Here is what some mock drafts are projecting for the Pistons, whose only two previous No. 1 picks were Jimmy Walker in 1967 and Bob Lanier in 1970.
SB Nation: Cunningham
Ricky O’Donnell wrote: “Cunningham is perfectly suited for the modern game as a 6-8 ball-handling wing who can run pick-and-roll, hit pull-up threes, collapse the defense with his drives to the rim, and have a positive impact on the defensive end. The Pistons can give him the ball from Day 1 and expect him to be the next face of their franchise.”
USA Today: Cunningham
Bryan Kalbrosky wrote: “No matter which team was blessed with the first pick in the draft, Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham was always going to be the play at No. 1 overall. There simply aren’t very many people on the planet who have the blend of size, shooting and passing that he can provide to an NBA team. Detroit has an excellent young core with Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes. But after landing the top pick in the draft, their team just got quite a bit more exciting.”
Jeremy Woo wrote: The Pistons struck gold. That gives Detroit first dibs on Cunningham, the widely projected top pick and close-to-consensus top prospect who will inject instant life into the franchise with his versatile skill-set and position-less mentality. Cunningham has terrific size for his position and can play alongside Killian Hayes in what could be a potent dual-ballhandler, pick-and-roll centric offense. Cunningham’s intangibles are rare, his skills continue to sharpen, and he has the goods to be a franchise player, despite some long-standing trouble finishing in traffic.”
Yahoo! Sports: Cunningham
Cody Taylor wrote: “(Cunningham) is widely considered to be the top pick this year and is viewed as a franchise-changing talent at the next level. Cunningham recently mentioned that he wanted to go to a team that wanted to prioritize his development and this pairing certainly makes sense. The Pistons allowed their rookies to play through mistakes last season and Cunningham should have that luxury, as well.”
The Sporting News: Cunningham
Jordan Greer wrote: “Cunningham is viewed as the consensus top pick because he has the size and skill-set that all NBA teams covet. … The turnover numbers weren’t great (4.0 per game), but it should be noted that Cunningham was carrying a largely limited roster.”
Bleacher Report: Cunningham
Jonathan Wasserman wrote: “The Detroit Pistons scored a franchise-altering win on lottery night. One of the league’s weaker offenses suddenly has a special creator, shooter and passer to run through. He’ll take pressure off Killian Hayes and start at the 2-guard slot, giving the Pistons two playmakers. But between Cunningham’s 6-8 size, advanced one-on-one game and tough shot-making, he’s on track to emerge as Detroit’s No. 1 option, putting Jerami Grant into a more comfortable No. 2 role.”
NBC Sports Bay Area: Cunningham
James Ham wrote: “Detroit is a mess. … They need talent and an identity. A star at the top end of the draft could help jump-start the rebuild. Cunningham is a big, strong, physical guard/forward who has stardom written all over him. He can score at all three levels, including in the post where he has the size and strength to power through contact. He has the court vision to be an elite distributor and his overall basketball IQ is off the charts. Detroit should be throwing a party in the streets. Cunningham is a starter on Day 1 and they will build this team around him. They have some solid pieces and might be a destination location in the coming years for free agents looking to play with a young star.”
Read More: Cade Cunningham clear-cut call for Pistons in NBA mock drafts