Cade Cunningham Rumors: Pistons Commitment at No. 1 in NBA Draft 'Could Be Imminent'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IV

Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Garett Fisbeck)
AP Photo/Garett Fisbeck

The Detroit Pistons reportedly may be closing in on finalizing their decision to select Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham with No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft.

According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, Cunningham's standing with the Pistons has "strengthened" throughout the predraft process, and it will be "extremely surprising" if Detroit doesn't take him with the top pick.

Givony added that a Detroit committment to Cunningham as the No. 1 overall selection "could be imminent."

The draft is set for Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and it will begin at 8 p.m. ET.

Since the start of the 2020-21 season, Cunningham has been the favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2021 draft.

He arrived at Oklahoma State as the No. 1 player in the 2020 recruiting class, per 247Sports, and nothing he did as a freshman dropped him from that perch.

During his one season with the Cowboys, the 6'8" guard averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 three-pointers made and 1.6 steals per game. He also shot 43.8 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from beyond the arc and 84.6 percent from the free-throw line.

Cunningham also helped lead Oklahoma State to the NCAA tournament, where it reached the second round.

The Arlington, Texas, native has only met with the Pistons throughout the predraft process.

According to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press, Cunningham said: "I wanted to meet with the team with the No. 1 pick, and I feel like I'm the No. 1 pick. I met with Detroit; they're the ones that had the pick."

Cunningham has also already ingratiated himself to the city of Detroit, saying:

"I love Detroit. I've already been listening to Detroit music and things like that, way before the draft lottery, any of that stuff. I was already hip to the culture in Detroit. It's a city that has a lot of things going on, and I feel like getting the sports team rolling again would be huge for the city. Detroit fits me, that's the main thing I'm going to try to do is step in and embody the swag that people from Detroit walk with, the people from Michigan in general. They have an underdog, go-get-what-you-want feel to them and I like that about the city. 

"If I am able to go in there and be the No. 1 pick, I'm going to try to carry that same swag, in how I walk on the court and make the most out of it and wear the red, white and blue for sure."

The Pistons are coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons, but they may not be far from getting back into playoff contention.

In recent years, a team has only needed to be around .500 to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and Detroit could be in that mix if Cunningham is as good as advertised.

The Pistons already have some quality holdovers, including Jerami Grant coming off a career year and rising youngsters Saddiq Bey, Hamidou Diallo, Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes and Sekou Doumbouya.

There are some other quality players with All-Star potential in this year's draft as well, including G League guard Jalen Green, USC center Evan Mobley and Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs.

While all of them figure to be strong picks in the top five, Cunningham has seemingly always been a cut above the rest, and is the clear favorite to go No. 1 overall.