The Detroit Pistons may be continuing to flounder, but Cade Cunningham fever is hot in the Motor City.
Detroit’s first No. 1 selection since 1970 is looking to be the real deal. Just this past weekend he was named MVP of the Rising Stars event as part of All-Star Weekend.
Michigan may be behind Cunningham for Rookie of the Year, but have his efforts this year been enough to earn the honor?
Perhaps more importantly, when will Cunningham’s talents lead to success for the Pistons as a franchise?
Cade Cunningham Rookie of the Year odds
Cunningham’s been impressive in his time on the court, but a few factors have stood in his way to contend for Rookie of the Year.
Injuries have kept him off the floor for 14 of Detroit’s 58 games. Plus, the Pistons are tied for the fewest wins in the league right now (13).
Evan Mobley of the Cleveland Cavaliers has emerged as the runaway favorite at the All-Star Break. Cunningham finds himself alongside the likes of Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City) and Scottie Barnes (Toronto) as distant challengers.
Not surprisingly, Michigan has been staunchly supporting one of its own. PointsBet Sportsbook MI reports that Cunningham is getting 58% of the wagers and 76% of the handle in Michigan in the ROY market. That’s compared to 19% of the wagers and 31% of the handle nationally.
BetMGM Michigan reports Cunningham is getting 81% of the wagers and 84% of the handle of its ROY market.
Cunningham among rookie stat leaders
Cade Cunningham wasn’t expected to be a prolific scorer, but he is still leading rookies in scoring this season at 15.7 points per game.
He’s also second among rookies in assists (5.2 per game) and steals (57), while sitting fifth in blocks (29) and seventh in rebounds (5.5 per game).
Factoring in his assists, Cunningham is responsible for at least 25 points per game for the Pistons.
It’s that kind of all-around play that allowed Cunningham to earn MVP of the Rising Stars event last Friday in Cleveland. Over his team’s two games (75 team points), Cunningham finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks.
Mobley is leading rookies in rebounds (8.1 per game) and blocks (82), while also averaging 14.9 points per game.
However, what’s helping Mobley’s campaign most is Cleveland sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference right now at 35-23. The Cavs have already surpassed last season’s win total (22) by 13.
Getting Cunningham some help
The consensus on Cunningham throughout Michigan is Detroit made the right choice at No. 1.
Along with his stats, his leadership and embrace of being the future of the franchise has endeared him to Detroit.
Now, the question is how to get Cunningham the supporting cast to succeed?
Can the Pistons win the Draft Lottery again?
Regardless of how the final 24 games of the season play out for Detroit, the Pistons are likely looking at an early pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Sports bettors can find the Pistons’ win total listed as low as . Keep in mind that Detroit’s win total last year was just 20.
The Pistons should remain a top contender for the No. 1 overall pick once again. Only two franchises have won back-to-back NBA Lotteries. The Orlando Magic won in 1992 and 1993, while the Cleveland Cavaliers won in 2013 and 2014.
In both situations, that franchise reached the NBA Finals within two years.
When’s the right time to spend?
The Pistons were expected to be more of player at the NBA Trade Deadline this year, with Jerami Grant viewed as an attractive trade piece. Detroit just didn’t get the offer it was looking for.
With one year remaining on his 3-year, $60 million contract, Detroit could still look to trade the veteran in the offseason.
Detroit is projected to have at least $31 million in cap space for free agency this offseason. That would put the Pistons in position to be major players. However, the 2022 free agent pool isn’t as attractive as 2023.
Unrestricted options this year are headlined by the likes of Zach LaVine, Miles Bridges, Jonas Valanciunas and T.J. Warren.
In 2023, the UFA pool looks more like an All-Star roster. Included are LeBron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, Nikola Jokic and Nikola Vucevic.
As bad as Pistons fans want a winner in Detroit, it may be best to sit on that cash this offseason in hopes of landing a big fish in 2023.