Today looks like it will be the day that prized rookie Cade Cunningham will make his debut for the Detroit Pistons. After missing all of preseason and the first four games of the NBA season, Cunningham’s name is absent from team’s most recent injury report.
While the ankle injury that had kept him out of the lineup has always been described as mild and unconcerning, the team was upfront that they would be exceedingly cautious in bringing Cunningham back. Pistons GM Troy Weaver said Cade would miss the team’s three-game road trip but might return afterward. Tonight’s Orlando Magic game will be the first game after the road trip so all signs are pointing to Cade playing.
And his return is sorely needed. Not just for an anxious, excited fan base that wants to unwrap their latest present, but also because the Pistons are struggling mightily on the offensive end and Cunningham’s ability to score, shoot and pass could allow things to click into place.
Currently, the Pistons rank dead last in offensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and made 3-pointers per game.
It’s unfair to put too much pressure on a rookie who has yet to play his first professional game, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s likely Cunningham would start at shooting guard along with Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant and Isaiah Stewart.
This could put less playmaking pressure on Hayes, a more potent 3-point threat than Josh Jackson or the struggling Frank Jackson, help with the team’s rebounding and he can establish a pace and rhythm often missing from the team’s helter-skelter offense.
Could the Pistons actually notch their first game of the season? Well, the Orlando Magic are one of the only teams in the league struggling worse than the Pistons. Detroit and Orlando rank 28th and 29th in net rating, respectively.