Following a much improved junior year, the Oregon State Beavers’ Jared Cunningham decided he’s ready to take his game to the NBA this upcoming season.
Cunningham averaged 17.9 points as a junior last year and was named to both the Pac-12 All-Conference First Team and Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.
What Cunningham Brings to the Team
The former Beaver enters the league as a shooting guard standing somewhere between 6’3” and 6’4”, but he showed on many occasions last year that he can run the point when called upon to take control of an offense. An unselfish player, Cunningham uses his ability to get to the rim as a way of creating open looks for his teammates on the perimeter.
Where he really excels is in the fast break. Cunningham is able to use his speed and athleticism to push the tempo and make plays in transition.
He’s also a player who commits on both ends of the floor, as he snatched up nearly three steals per game last season.
What Experts Are Saying
The lanky guard will make some great plays in the NBA, but ESPN’s Chard Ford says a few holes in his game need to be addressed moving forward:
Cunningham is a long, super-athletic guard who excels at getting to the rim. He's also a terrific defender. If he was a more consistent outside shooter, or more of a point guard, he'd be a lock for the first round.
Cunningham relied on his athleticism in the Pac-12, but if he’s going to find his spot in the rotation next year, it’s going to be crucial that he adds a few elements to his skill set at the NBA level.
Despite his ability to play the point, Cunningham likely won’t become a full-time floor general any time soon. Averaging more turnovers than assists last season, expect him to stick more to his natural position at shooting guard spot during his rookie season.
At just 194 pounds, Cunningham will be going face to face with bigger players at his position next year, and he might just find that it’s difficult to make the types of plays he made throughout his time in the Pac-12. Adding strength and a consistent jump shot will help boost his NBA career to a higher level, but for now, expect the majority of his plays to be made with his athleticism.
Jared Cunningham was a surprising pick, but he has the potential of being a steal in this draft. Cunningham’s selection was all about value for the Mavs, as he does not fill a desperate need for Dallas. At 6’ 5”, Cunningham can get to the basket at will and score in bunches.
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