Cade Cunningham’s Standout Week Propels Him Into Tight NBA Rookie Of The Year Race

Written By Drew Ellis on November 18, 2021

It’s been an interesting week for the Detroit Pistons and top rookie NBA Draft pick Cade Cunningham.

Cade has already gone head-to-head with many of the other top NBA Rookie of the Year contenders and had a chance to showcase his skills to the world.

Where does Cunningham stand now in the rookie race compared with his peers?

Detroit Pistons put up winning week

After a really poor start to the season at 1-8, Detroit made some progress in the past eight days by going 3-2. The Pistons earned wins over Houston, Toronto and Indiana.

On the flip side, Detroit’s losses to Cleveland and Sacramento were ugly. Both were by 20+ points.

The Pistons are 14th in the Eastern Conference right now, only ahead of Orlando. They are already 2.5 games behind of Toronto and Boston for the final two playoff spots.

BetMGM Sportsbook doesn’t think Detroit will continue a winning trend. The Pistons are listed at +2000 to reach the playoffs and -10000 to miss them.

Cade Cunningham, top rookie candidates square off

After missing the start of the regular season with an ankle injury, Cunningham is now full steam ahead for Detroit.

This past week has been a big opportunity for him, and he’s shown positive signs.

It started with a head-to-head with Jalen Green of Houston, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Cade led Detroit to a 112-104 win on the road with 20 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

His worst outing came against No. 3 pick, Evan Mobley last Friday in a 98-78 loss. Cunningham had just nine points and seven turnovers.

Next up was a clash with current ROY favorite, Scottie Barnes of Toronto. Cunningham had just 10 points, four assists and three rebounds, but came away with a 127-121 victory.

Since then, Detroit lost 129-107 to Sacramento on Monday and beat Indiana 97-89 on Wednesday. Cunningham put up 41 combined points, along with 16 rebounds, 14 assists and four steals over the two games.

Cunningham still firmly in Rookie of the Year mix

Oddsmakers still see the Rookie of the Year race being very tight.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Barnes is the slight favorite right now at +225.

Mobley is right behind him at +275, while Cunningham sits third at +300. Green is given +500 odds, with the next players after that sitting way back at +1700.

Cunningham is averaging 13.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists through nine games of action.

Mobley is putting up 14.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks per game for Cleveland through 15 games. However, an elbow injury will sideline Mobley for at least a couple weeks.

Barnes is averaging 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game for the Raptors through 13 games.

Green is averaging 14.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest over 15 games for Houston.

Team performance is likely to play a role in this race. Cleveland (9-7) is definitely best off of the four, which helps Mobley if he returns to health. Toronto (7-8) is 10th in the East, while Detroit and Houston (1-14) are way in the back.

Miles Bridges a top favorite for Most Improved Player

On a side note, a local favorite is in the mix for Most Improved Player in the NBA this season.

MSU grad and Flint native Miles Bridges currently finds himself at +300 to win the award right now. Only Memphis’ Ja Morant has better odds at +200. The rest of the field is at +1300 or longer.

Bridges is in his fourth season with the Charlotte Hornets and is exploding thus far. He is leading the team with 21.3 points per game while also adding 7.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

Last season, Bridges only mustered 12.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. It doesn’t hurt that Bridges is breaking out in a contract year.

It’s a bit hard to see Morant being named the Most Improved, simply because he’s been a stud since arriving. Last year he averaged 19.1 points and 7.4 assists per game. This season, Morant is putting up 25.9 points, 7.3 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Morant’s Grizzlies are ninth in the Western Conference right now at 7-7. Bridges has the Hornets sitting fifth in the East at 9-7.

Photo by Corey Sipkin/AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis has lived in Michigan his whole life, and has been writing professionally for the last 21 years. Ellis has covered anything from youth baseball in mid-Michigan, a top-25 college football program, and pro sports in the Detroit area. Always keeping busy, Ellis also has over 10 years of experience in covering sports betting, handling all major sports.

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