KEY POINTS

  • Cade Cunningham believes that he is the best rookie in his draft class
  • A core of Cunningham, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey could become a threat if developed 
  • Cavs big man Evan Mobley may have already secured the Rookie of the Year

Being a rookie in the NBA comes with a ton of pressure, but Detroit Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham is not allowing any of it to enter his mind.

In a sit-down interview with Bleacher Report, Cunningham revealed that he thinks he is the best rookie in their draft class and added that winning personal trophies are not necessarily on his mind.

“It's definitely a goal of mine. I feel like I am the best rookie. So, winning that award would validate that to me and the world, but at the end of the day when I go and play a basketball game, I'm not thinking of Rookie of the Year trophies or anything like that. But it would be great to have when the time comes,” said the point guard from Arlington, Texas.

Cunningham has certainly come on at the right time for the Pistons after a rough start to his rookie campaign with averages of 15.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in about 30 minutes of action over the past 10 games.

Drafted as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, fans held the 20-year-old in high regard due to his combination of size and skill as a 6-foot-8 guard.

Cunningham was named as the consensus top rookie prospect ahead of the draft as he averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.6 steals over 27 games in his lone season with the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The Pistons have been a franchise mired in misfortune as they continue to look for a light at the end of the tunnel after years of teetering between being a fringe playoff team and cellar dwellers in the Eastern Conference.

Their last playoff appearance came four seasons ago in 2019 where they were shunted by the Milwaukee Bucks in four games, but they have not been a relevant team in the East since the days of Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups during the 2007-08 season.

Undoubtedly, Cunningham is the best player the Pistons have right now as the sidelined Jerami Grant could be traded to a new team before the season ends.

Alongside sophomores Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, the Pistons core looks to be primed to grow together in the upcoming seasons.

Cunningham was also grateful for the guidance of veterans Rodney McGruder, Trey Lyles and Josh Jackson in the early stages of their NBA journey.

He is currently ranked as the No. 2 rookie on NBA.com’s Rookie Ladder behind Cleveland Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley and ahead of Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes.

These three rookies are set to contend for the award until the season ends, but Mobley may have the advantage as he is leading the Cavaliers to a breakthrough year as they aim for a surprising playoff berth.

With the Pistons firmly outside of the playoff picture, Cunningham may need to settle for second place behind Mobley for Rookie of the Year honors, but Detroit’s future is securely in his hands.

Cade Cunningham Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons looks to pass the ball against Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns at Little Caesars Arena on January 16, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images