NBA Draft 2021 Rumors: Cade Cunningham Compared to Celtics' Jayson Tatum by NBA Exec

Adam WellsJuly 8, 2021

Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham (2)points during an NCAA college basketball game Monday, March. 1, 2021, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
AP Photo/Brody Schmidt

Cade Cunningham, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA draft, is earning high praise as he prepares to start his professional career. 

One executive for a Western Conference team told The Athletic's David Aldridge that Cunningham's size and skill set compare favorably to those of Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum.

"(Cunningham)’s Jayson Tatum," the executive said. "Same size. Can score from anywhere on the court."

The 6'8", 220-pound Cunningham has been under a microscope dating back to high school when he was regarded as the best college recruit in the country as part of the 2020 class, per 247Sports' composite rankings

Based on the results from the Texas native's one season at Oklahoma State, he's done nothing to dissuade anyone from believing in that ranking. The 19-year-old averaged 20.1 points on 43.8 percent shooting (40.0 percent from three-point range), 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 27 games. 

B/R's Jonathan Wasserman has Cunningham ranked as the No. 1 prospect in this class. 

When the 6'8", 210-pound Tatum was coming out of Duke in 2017, Wasserman ranked him as the sixth-best player because of concerns about his game on both ends of the court. 

"Tatum isn't super explosive, shows questionable shot selection and has lapses on defense," Wasserman wrote. "But his offensive polish, from his jumper to his footwork, remains convincing."

Since being selected by the Celtics with the No. 3 pick four years ago, Tatum has developed into one of the league's best all-around players. He's been named to the All-Star team in each of the past two seasons and averaged a career-high 26.4 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting in 2020-21.

The Detroit Pistons own the top pick in the 2021 NBA draft, which is set for July 29.