Unless you live under a rock, you now know the Detroit Pistons won the Cade Cunningham sweepstakes. When I woke up Wednesday morning, I briefly wondered if Tuesday night was just a dream. Dream no more, a Detroit sports team actually won a professional sports lottery.
Immediately after winning the lottery, Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver teased the thought of even potentially trading the top pick. Good one, Troy. The best part about picking first overall is that there is no need to bluff.
Cunningham is the consensus first overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and he will fit perfectly with the Detroit Pistons.
Weaver made a splash in what felt like minutes after being hired by the Pistons last Winter, so much so quickly being nicknamed ‘Trader Troy.’ Weaver didn’t just overhaul the Pistons roster leaving Blake Griffin and eventually second-year forward Sekou Doumbouya, the longest-tenured player on the club.
The Pistons accumulated three first-round selections in the 2020 NBA draft and spent them on point guard Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart. The trio of rookies played a significant amount aside from Hayes, who suffered a torn labrum in his hip that nearly cost him his entire rookie season.
That brings me to the first player who will benefit from the Detroit Pistons winning the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery.
Second-year point guard Killian Hayes will compliment rookie phenom Cade Cunningham extremely well in 2021-22.
The good news regarding Hayes’ injury is that he avoided surgery and eventually returned to the lineup down the stretch.
In his return, Hayes looked like an entirely different player from that tentative turnover machine he was through his first seven contests. It’s not automatic for a top-ten selection to come right in and dominate at the professional level. Hayes is living proof that, more often than not, rookie players, regardless of the sport, need time to marinate and develop before they are ready to make a positive impact in their respected lineup.
Hayes proved late as a rookie that he has what could be elite court vision. While Hayes lacks some scoring ability and is not really a shot creator, it appears he’s comfortable being a remarkable passer and facilitator. This skill-set will benefit the teams’ three-point sniper Saddiq Bey, team leader Jerami Grant and rookie Cade Cunningham.
Cunningham is not afraid to shoot, and shoot often he does. The Oklahoma State product averaged nearly 15 field goal attempts per game last year with the Cowboys, knocking down 43.8% of them.
If head coach Dwane Casey chooses to play Hayes and Cunningham together in the backcourt next season, it gives the lineup multiple ball handlers. Cunningham has the ability to iso or distribute the ball on a drive. Adding another ball-dominant guard who doesn’t shy away from attacking the hoop only benefits Hayes and creates plenty of much-needed mismatches for Bey and Grant on the wing.