After missing the first four games of the 2021-22 season due to injury, Cade Cunningham made his debut for the Detroit Pistons against the Orlando Magic on Saturday night. The top pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, he played just 19 minutes but helped the team pull off a 110-103 victory.
In that limited action, Cunningham struggled a bit from the floor, hitting just one of his eight shot attempts and going 0-for-5 from deep. This shouldn’t be concerning, as many players struggle offensively in their first ever NBA game.
The box score doesn’t tell the entire story in Cunningham’s debut. Although he only scored two points, he showed the physical tools that NBA teams crave, showing why he was the top overall pick.
As a 6-foot-8 point guard, Cunningham will have the opportunity to be special on the defensive end of the floor. Pistons fans got a glimpse of his potential on defense in the debut.
“I think it was good. I feel like coming in, just being able to make some plays off the ball, get some rebounds. I felt like I was solid defensively,” Cunningham said postgame.
Additionally, Cunningham has the size to be an excellent rebounding guard. Similar to Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, the Oklahoma State product will be a point guard who should be one of the best rebounders on his team.
On Saturday night, Cunningham pulled down seven rebounds. All seven came in the first half, setting the record for most rebounds in a half by a Pistons player in their NBA debut since at least 1997-98 (when NBA first tracked play-by-play data).
Detroit plays again today against the Brooklyn Nets, but Cunningham will rest since it’s the second night of a back-to-back as he works his way back to full health.
To this point in the season, the Pistons’ only win has come with their franchise cornerstone on the floor.