The Detroit Pistons’ young core is making believers around the league.
The 2023-24 NBA season tipped off last Tuesday and the first week was incredibly exciting. There have already been some amazing games, individual performances, and intriguing storylines, meaning this has the potential to be an amazing year of basketball.
One of the more exciting teams to watch during the first week of the season was the Detroit Pistons, who have a strong core of talented young players like Cade Cunningham, Jalen Duren, and Ausar Thompson, who are showing glimpses of their immense talent.
Let’s take a deeper look at these three players’ performance so far this season and see what makes them such a weird and fun team with the potential to be very good down the road.
Cade Cunningham has officially arrived
Cade Cunningham’s first two seasons in the NBA were rocky, to say the least. As a rookie in 2021, he was the team’s primary initiator and he struggled a little bit. His box score numbers were fine, but he was very inefficient, he struggled to shoot from distance, and he turned the ball over at a pretty high rate.
Obviously, he was not amazing right off the bat and he had some real issues. However, his production wasn’t terrible and some of his struggles made sense when considering his usage and how much he was asked to do offensively as a 20-year-old.
Flash forward to the next season and he faced a massive setback. Twelve games into the 2022 season, Cunningham underwent season-ending surgery on his left shin, cutting his sophomore season short. After an up-and-down rookie season, many people thought he would take a leap during his second season, but he would have to wait another year for that to happen.
At this point, there were some concerns about his future because he had yet to show that he could play at a high level consistently. He didn’t play much in 2022, but he wasn’t much better in those 12 games than he was the year prior. He did turn the ball over at a lower rate and his defense was proving to be pretty good, but he still hadn’t found his groove as a scorer and shooter.
Well, things have changed now. We are just three games into the 2023 season, but Cunningham looks like a different player. He is currently averaging around 22 points, three rebounds, and eight assists per game on 44.1/38.9/88.9 shooting splits.
He hasn’t been perfect, shooting just 30.8% from 0-3 feet and turning it over at an 18.2% rate, but he is shooting the ball way better and his passing volume is quickly approaching elite territory. He also looks more confident with the ball in his hands and he is attacking defenses in a variety of ways, showing that he has incredible upside as a three-level scorer
If Cade Cunningham can put it all together and become an efficient scorer, he has a chance to become a top-fifty player sooner rather than later. He’s a special player and he has finally arrived.