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Cunningham provides Pistons a constructing block in rebuilding plan | Sports



DETROIT (AP) — Cade Cunningham was one of many solely gamers on the court docket greater than an hour earlier than a current sport, dribbling at completely different paces to apply strikes to his proper and left whereas pulling up for jumpers at various distances.

Even although Cunningham’s future with the Detroit Pistons is safe as the No. 1 choose from the 2021 draft and as a number one candidate to win NBA Rookie of the Year, he was breaking a sweat as if he was attempting to maintain his job.

Clearly, the 6-foot-6 guard is aware of he has a variety of work to do.

The three-time championship franchise does, too.

Detroit was 23-59 this season, ending forward of simply Houston and Orlando on the backside of the league standings. While the Pistons are mired in a rebuilding undertaking that has lasted longer than a decade, choosing Cunningham was a selection that has panned out and offered a minimum of one cause for hope.

He overcame an ankle harm that stunted the beginning of his profession to common 17.4 factors to guide all rookies, ranked second in his class with 5.6 assists a sport and fifth with 5.5 rebounds over 64 video games.

The 20-year-old Cunningham grew to become the sixth NBA participant to have a minimum of 1,114 factors, 356 assists and 354 rebounds by 64 video games, becoming a member of a brief record that features LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Luka Doncic, Oscar Robertson and Alvan Adams.

Cunningham’s coach, Dwane Casey, vowed that the previous Oklahoma State star wouldn’t be a bust earlier than the season began. The savvy first-year participant proved his coach was proper — and stunned him, too.

“I knew he was a basketball junkie, but I didn’t know he had the knowledge of what everybody was supposed to do on the court,” Casey said.

Cunningham had a simple explanation when asked about the compliment, saying it was a relatively easy accomplishment compared to playing football.

“As a quarterback, you have to know what 10 guys are doing,” he said.

A GOOD SOURCE

Dallas Mavericks coach and former NBA point guard Jason Kidd marveled at the season Cunningham had in Detroit.

“He’s done an incredible job in his first year,” Kidd stated. “He’s probably the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. To be a point guard and do what he does on a nightly basis is impressive.”

PIVOTAL PISTON

Jerami Grant scored 19.2 factors per sport, main the group in scoring for a second straight season. The 28-year-old ahead, although, was restricted by accidents to simply 47 video games.

Grant is eligible for a contract extension, getting into the final season of his three-year, $60 million deal. If the Pistons do not give Grant a brand new deal, they could wish to commerce him.

MAKING A MARK

Saddiq Bey, in his second yr, broke a single-season franchise document with 211 3-pointers. The 6-8 ahead made 20 extra pictures past the arc than Allan Houston did in the course of the 1995-96 season. Bey was additionally the one participant on the group to play in all 82 video games, 11 greater than heart Isaiah Stewart.

TAKING A FLYER

The Pistons have been happy with Marvin Bagley III within the 18 video games he performed after buying him from Sacramento in a four-team commerce two months in the past. The former Duke star averaged 14.6 factors with the Pistons, falling simply wanting his profession excessive from his rookie yr three years in the past, together with 6.8 rebounds.

Detroit could make Bagley a restricted free agent by giving him a qualifying supply, and Casey sounds as if he would really like the 6-11 ahead to remain.

“He’s a expertise,” Casey said “He was drafted No. 2 (overall) for a reason and he showed all of that for us. His ability to score in the low post is uncanny.”

BABY STEPS

The Pistons received simply 28% of their video games, barely enhancing upon final yr’s clip, however they have been higher over the past two months of the season. After beginning 12-45, Detroit was 11-14 and that included a season-ending, three-game dropping skid.

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