The 2021 first overall draft pick, Pistons guard Cade Cunningham, had his promising sophomore season come to a halt last year due to injury. On November 9, in a game vs. the Celtics, Cunningham was having the worst game of his career, shooting 1-of-11, which may have been a repercussion from an injury incurred in the game.
Consequently, this resulted in season-ending left shin surgery last December. According to reports at ESPN, after seven months, the Pistons guard has fully recovered.
Important to note, Cunningham was averaging 19.9 ppg (41.5 FG%), 6.2 rebounds, and 6 assists, before he was forced to miss the remainder of the season. As expected, the 21-year-old will be ready to go by the start of the 2023-24 season. In fact, reports just came out that Cunningham will join a USA Select team along with the Thunder’s Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams, the Rockets’ Jalen Green, and the Kings’ Keegan Murray, via The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
These are some of the names who will scrimmage and go head-to-head against the Team USA roster, for the FIBA World Cup training camp, which will take place in August in Las Vegas. With a World Cup roster that features a couple of No. 1 overall picks, Anthony Edwards and Paolo Banchero, they will look to improve on Team USA’s disappointing seventh-place performance from the 2019 World Cup.
Notably, the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup will take place this year in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10. Particularly, Cunningham was offered a spot on the World Cup roster, but politely declined, to focus on preparing for the upcoming season with the Pistons.
Pistons newly signed head coach, Monty Williams, has spoken highly of Cunningham, saying he has always “loved his game.” The new coach is excited about the 6-foot-7 guard’s combination of size and ability to be both a mid-range and 3-point scorer.
The feelings are mutual for the coach and his players. For instance, Cunningham said he couldn’t be happier having the 2022 Coach of the Year take over.
“I thought he was the perfect person for us. Just excited for the team and for us to be able to learn from him and take it to the next level,” Cunningham said, via 97.1 the Ticket.
With the new coach arriving, and the star player coming back next season, the Pistons expect to improve on their 17-65 record last season, which was worst in the league. Williams looks forward to bringing a winning mentality to Detroit after posting a record of 194-115 (.628) in four seasons with the Suns.
Certainly, Cunningham’s confidence in his new coach and teammates is evident, as he even went on to say “next year is the year for us.” Pistons fans have been hoping to have a good year for a very long time, as they have only experienced one winning season in the last 15 years. And the last time the team won a playoff game was when Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, and Rasheed Wallace helped lead them to the Eastern Conference finals in 2008. Detroit has made three playoff appearances since then, but got swept in the first round all three times.
Despite recent failures, there seems to be optimism in Motown, as wheeler and dealer Pistons GM Troy Weaver has acquired a lot of young, promising talent through the draft in the last few years.
Namely, this year’s fifth overall draft pick, Ausar Thompson, put on a showcase in the NBA Summer League. The two-way player averaged 13.5 points, 10 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.6 steals, and 1.8 blocks in 29.2 minutes per game. When pairing the rookie small forward with the backcourt of the 21-year-olds Jaden Ivey and Cunningham, alongside 19-year-old center Jalen Duren, Detroit fans have a reason to tune into games this upcoming season and many seasons to come.
By all means, the time ahead looks bright for the Pistons under Williams, who looks to develop the young talent to become a contending team in the East, in the near future.