There are just three days until NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces who the Detroit Pistons will select with the No.1 pick in the 2021 draft. Time will show if the Pistons win consensus first pick Cade Cunningham or if GM Troy Weaver negotiates a deal worthy of the first choice.
If the Pistons capture Cunningham on Thursday, the Oklahoma State Guard has already begun to establish a connection with the city of Detroit.
The Arlington, Texas native has already immersed himself in some of Detroit culture, including some of the city’s rappers like Sada Baby, 42 Dugg and Babyface Ray. He also threw it in the past with the Temptations and added that he should be looking at his phone for more local musicians than he listens to.
“I love Detroit,” Cunningham said. “I’ve listened to Detroit music and things like that, way before the lottery draft, all that. I was already connected to culture in Detroit. It’s a city where there’s a lot going on, and I feel like relaunching the sports team would be huge for the city.
“Detroit is fine with me, that’s the main thing I’m going to try to do is step in and be the swag that the people of Detroit walk with, the people of Michigan in general. They feel like an outsider, to go get what you want and I like that about the city. So if I can go out there and be the # 1 pick I’m going to try and wear the same booty, in the way I walk the field and make the most of it and wear red, white, and blue, well sure.
He had the chance to experience it firsthand over the past week. Six days ago, Cunningham traveled to Detroit for his pre-draft training with the Pistons. After the NBA Draft Lottery last month, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Cunningham would only work with the Pistons since the team held the first pick.
“I wanted to meet the team with the No.1 pick and I feel like I was the No.1 pick,” Cunningham said in a video call press conference on Friday. “I met Detroit, they were the ones who had the choice.”
At 19, Cunningham showed he was ready for the NBA on both sides of the court. The 6-8 goaltender averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his lone season with the Cowboys. He averaged 1.6 interceptions per game, being vigilant in the passing lanes.
With the Pistons re-establishing the franchise, Cunningham would add more versatility, something the organization covets in its players. On Friday, Cunningham said he learned a lot about organizing the Pistons.
“I got a lot out of it,” Cunningham said. “The organization has a lot of great people in it. I mean, starting with the owners, Troy Weaver is a great GM, and then you know it all down there. “
He added that he would be delighted if the Pistons selected him on Thursday and that he believed the team were in a restoration period. He also pointed out that the Pistons have a lot of good things going for them, including the selection of Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart to the NBA All-Rookie teams last month.
“I saw that Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey were both on the All-Rookie team,” he said. “I have the impression that it’s a direct correlation between what the staff do with their players and the time they devote to development. So I mean that’s a good indication in itself, it’s something that I love to see and these two guys are rookies. So, young nucleus, things are going well for them. Obviously, they didn’t have the season they wanted last year, but that’s a lot to build on.
The city of Detroit is already embracing it too. During his visit, he was fortunate enough to see the Detroit Tigers blank his hometown of Texas Rangers 14-0. As Comerica Park, after fans learned of Cunningham’s presence at the stadium, they chanted “We want Cade!”
“Yeah, that was cool,” Cunningham said. “I know they showed a lot of love throughout and when I was walking around the city, the stadium, things like that, it’s a lot of love. This stuff means a lot every time they show love.
“I remember dreaming of being the best and now, to be honest, I’m in Detroit and people talk about ‘We want Cade’ and things like that, it’s surreal to me. So I know I’ve played a lot of big games and stuff like that, that kind of stuff still gives me chills and I’m still very grateful.