Do you believe in the Detroit Pistons third year player Cade Cunningham?
To this point in his career it’s fair to have some concern or doubt as it relates to health. But his skillset has always been on display which is why he was the #1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Troy Weaver has articulated Cunningham being the type of player that you build around. The specific word he used was “connecter” and noted his ability to be an unselfish star. Someone who would actively look to make those around him better, even before looking for his own shine.
This has notoriously led to seemingly slow starts by Cunningham throughout his career, as he usually seeks to find teammates early in games. A popular former Pistons point guard had this same philosophy by the name of Chauncey Billups. He told stories of their championship team getting Ben Wallace early touches on the offensive side of the floor. Something many thought wasn’t producing the starts to games they desired. But as the season drew on it paid huge dividends.
Billups noted just how much more engaged and together the team felt when they trusted in and worked to uplift their “brother”, instead of attempting to play four on five offense.
Cade Cunningham has been a player from a philosophical standpoint that has maintained the same type of thought and activity on the court. A probing facilitator who draws a lot of gravity so it’s also the right basketball play to hit the open teammate.
Seeing that skillset in Cade is more akin to the ingredients whereas utilizing it in the correct way is baking it. New Detroit Pistons head coach, Monty Williams, just might be the right chef to bring the entire dish together.
Monty Williams Will Unlock Cade Cunningham’s All Star Potential
It was music to my ears when I heard Monty Williams speak of reducing Cunningham’s usage rate and defensive responsibility. This will raise his level of efficiency while reducing stress on his body, particularly the surgically repaired left shin.
Monty Williams as Phoenix Suns head coach did the same thing with a player of similar skillset as Cunningham, Devin Booker. He reduced his ball dominant usage on offense and put him in a better position defensively to keep him that more effective for larger stretches of the game.
Williams changed the Suns Booker ball dominant offense to the .5 second offense. Which means making your decision to pass, shoot or drive within a half second of receiving the basketball. The Suns offense swung the ball often which created cut lanes for their wings, they referred to as the “Switchables’, who attacked the rim with force.
This offense also created opportunities for other playmakers on the team to better compliment and support Devin Bookers unique offensive traits. His three point percentage, free throws and points per game all went up with better efficiency, despite his usage dropping.
Ausar Thompson to the Rescue
This is what makes Pistons rookie Ausar Thompson, of OverTime Elite, so special. Coach Williams believes Thompson is capable of defending top offensive perimeter or wing player of the opposing team. Those are traits and skills that were very visible to see had a great opportunity to translate to the NBA. But Thompson’s playmaking has been something many wondered about being reality in the league.
The early results have been very positive ones for Thompson’s two-way ability translating, especially in support of Cade Cunningham. Ausar has defended the top line players of the Suns and OKC Thunder in each of the Pistons preseason games, and he’s even brought the ball up the court. His playmaking ability will allow the Pistons to bring Cunningham’s usage rate down and increase his efficient catch and shoot opportunities.
I believe we will see the best version of Cade Cunningham this year, which will be the biggest factor in a Detroit Pistons season many pessimistic fans want to believe in.
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