Packing His Buffs, Cade Cunningham ‘All The Way In’ With Detroit Pistons

Written By Matt Schoch on July 30, 2021

As his first interview as a member of the Detroit Pistons was trailing off, Cade Cunningham commanded one more moment.

He asked ESPN’s Malika Andrews which camera he should speak to his new fans in. Then he threw on a pair of Cartier sunglasses and became a Detroiter for life.

“I got to Buff Up, you know what I’m sayin,” Cunningham said. “Detroit, I’m all the way in. Detroit Pistons, I’m all the way in. Let’s do it.”

For a deserted sports town with an unprecedented run of almost a decade without much excitement at all, it was all that needed to be said.

All the way in.

No guarantees with Cade Cunningham, but hope in Detroit is enough

As expected, the Pistons came home to Cade Cunningham on Thursday morning, selecting the versatile Oklahoma State star first overall among a tremendous trio at the top of the 2021 NBA Draft.

Though most certainly not generational like LeBron James, Cunningham could take his place someday among first overall draft scores with players such as Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose. A solid player with a high floor, there’s very little chance he becomes a Darko Milicic type of bust in Detroit.

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver and the front office did their due diligence since netting the No. 1 pick in the June NBA Draft Lottery. He checked the temperature of the trade market and worked out Jalen Green as well.

It was an anxious summer for fans until ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Detroit’s intentions to draft Cunningham on Thursday afternoon.

Wojnarowki’s report knocked Cunningham’s No. 1 pick market off the board at sportsbooks, whose traders were perhaps checking Twitter on Thursday as dutifully as many Pistons fans. Cunningham closed at -5000 odds after opening at -500. Enough bettors jumped at the opening odds (and late parlays on the inevitability of Cunningham going No. 1) to make Cade the biggest liability at No. 1, according to BetMGM Sportsbook.

As for the franchise, which flickered hope last season in Weaver’s first year, the Pistons are now a legitimate up-and-comer in the NBA.

After a decade lost in the wilderness — the Pistons have not won a playoff game since 2008 — that’s plenty enough for now.

Are we looking at the Rookie of the Year?

Well, he’s the favorite.

A handful of Michigan sportsbooks have given Cunningham the shortest odds to win NBA Rookie of the Year.

DraftKings Sportsbook even boosted Cunningham’s odds from +250 to +500 for a promotion with a $25 max bet (good through Aug. 5).

Here’s a look at how Cunningham’s odds stack up at Michigan sportsbooks compared with other top Rookie of the Year candidates. In this case, we’re talking about Green of Houston, who went second overall; Evan Mobley of Cleveland, who went third; and fifth pick Jalen Suggs of Orlando.

PlayerBetMGM SportsbookDraftKings SportsbookPointsBet SportsbookWilliam Hill SportsbookWynnBET Sportsbook
Cade Cunningham, Detroit+275+250+260+260+250
Jalen Green, Houston+500+450+475+400+300
Evan Mobley, Cleveland+600+550+575+450+375
Jalen Suggs, Orlando+800+800+650+750+550
Scottie Barnes, Toronto+800+800+700+750+550

For a Pistons team coming off a 20-52 season, there will be plenty of playing time and usage opportunities available for Cunningham.

The new face of the Pistons’ franchise said all the right things Thursday night and seems like the type of player and understated personality that should play well in this town.

Judging by social media and the atmosphere around downtown Detroit on Thursday night, the fans appear just as ready for Cade as he appears ready to lead the Pistons.

All the way in.

Photo by Mitch Alcala/AP File
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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