2021 NBA Draft Rumors: Rockets 'Fixated' on Cade Cunningham but Unlikely to Trade Up

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 9, 2021

With his teammates looking on at rear, Cade Cunningham announces that he will enter the NBA draft after a dynamic freshman season that saw him named a first-team AP All-American, Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Former Oklahoma State point guard and first-team All-American Cade Cunningham is widely presumed to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA draft.

The Houston Rockets, who own the No. 2 selection, are reportedly "fixated" on Cunningham, per Zach Harper of The Athletic.

However, they'd likely have to trade with the Detroit Pistons at No. 1 overall to select the collegiate star, and Harper wrote that appears unlikely while breaking down what Houston could do instead.

"According to league sources, it’s believed the Rockets have been fixated on Cunningham but don’t believe in offering up to Detroit what it would take to move into the top spot. That leaves them just deciding to pick the next best player at No. 2, right? Not necessarily. Houston could look to trade out of No. 2 in exchange for a more definite young star, i.e. someone already in the league.
"But league sources also have echoed sentiments that Houston could throw a lot of stuff out into the ether and see if it spurs any kind of rush toward offering the Rockets unbalanced trades in Houston’s favor. Confusion is the name of the game right now."

Harper closed by writing that he believed the Rockets will ultimately stay at No. 2 and pick the best player available.

Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for the Cowboys last season. The Texas native was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and Sporting News Freshman of the Year, among other accolades.

He's landed at No. 1 on all 12 mock drafts reviewed by Drew Packham of NBA.com as of Thursday.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has Cunningham going No. 1 to the Pistons, and he wrote the following in his latest mock.

"There is noise about the Detroit Pistons considering multiple prospects. But they'll wind up taking the player every scout expected to go No. 1 all season. 
"Sources say certain Pistons staff members were initially informed that Cade Cunningham would be the pick. Aside from most agreeing he's the top prospect, his fit and archetype are ideal for the Pistons, who could use a high-level creator to initiate offense. 
"An advanced scorer and passer, Cunningham could take pressure off Killian Hayes and give the Pistons another shooting threat next to Saddiq Bey."

The Rockets would have numerous options at No. 2, with USC big man Evan Mobley, Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs and NBA G League Ignite shooting guard Jalen Green appearing to be the next best prospects.

As of now, seven of the 12 mocks reviewed by Packham have Mobley going to Houston. Mobley averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game in his lone season with the Trojans en route to leading them to the Elite Eight.


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