The Detroit Pistons drafted Cade Cunningham to transform the franchise. The rookie is proving why patience will pay off in the long term.
Cade Cunningham is starting to look more like the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft by the day.
On Thursday, the Pistons guard put up 20 points in a win over the Rockets and their top draft pick Jalen Green in his most impressive performance yet.
It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it had what the Pistons needed to prove patience will be a virtue with Cunningham.
Cade Cunningham has the perfect mentality to pay off patience
Cunningham’s introduction to the NBA wasn’t exactly stellar. After missing the first four games of the season with an ankle injury, he debuted on Oct. 30s and went 1-of-8 from the floor and 0-of-5 from distance.
In fact, just three of his first 22 shots in the pros made it through the net and he didn’t hit a triple until his third game.
Inefficiency was a huge problem for Cunningham early. However, he’s shown improvement in each outing. His 12.5 percent shooting mark from his first game improved to 14.3 percent in his second, 23.5 in his third, 35.3 in his fourth and then 44.4 in his fifth.
That doesn’t mean Cunningham will suddenly start shooting 50 percent each night. He’ll continue to have ups and downs.
The important thing is what he demonstrates while he works through the growing pains of being a young player.
The mentality he showed in the game against Houston was spot on. Despite trash talk from Green, who is fired up by being passed over for Cunningham, the Piston’s rookie kept his composure and let his play do the talking. That wasn’t just limited to offense.
Green drew a technical for screaming at Cunningham after a dunk to tie the game in the third quarter.
Detroit went on to win while Cunningham helped to shut down Green the rest of the way on the defensive end.
He gave his team what they needed. He kept his head and came away with the W.
One day, Cunningham will be capable of taking over games as the guy. For now, his only job is to learn what it takes to be a great player. Some nights, that’ll mean putting up 20 points. Other nights, that may mean learning how to pick his battles by facilitating instead of shooting.
He won’t always get that balance right but Pistons fans should be patient and enjoy the ride.