Report: Cade Cunningham to Be Taken by Pistons with No. 1 Draft Pick Barring Trade

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 29, 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

The Detroit Pistons have reportedly "finalized" their decision to select Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham if they keep the first overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft Thursday night.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported full details of the Pistons' decision-making process and noted there's still an outside chance of a trade before Detroit is on the clock:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Trade offers to move up the board -- including to No. 1 -- continue to come, so there's always the possibility that a proposal could blow the Pistons away. But if they're taking the pick for themselves at No. 1 tonight, they're taking Cade Cunningham, sources tell ESPN. <a href="https://t.co/qYbIEvOeTL">https://t.co/qYbIEvOeTL</a>

The Pistons have played their cards close to the vest since winning the No. 1 pick in the lottery, and that remained true in the days leading up to the draft.

"I said it from the onset: We're going to have a process, and we're going to turn over every stone," Detroit general manager Troy Weaver told reporters Tuesday.

Passing on Cunningham, whether via a trade down or selecting another prospect, would have come with ample risk given his perennial All-Star potential, though.

The 19-year-old Texas native should be a high-impact NBA player from Day 1. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals across 27 games at Oklahoma State. He also knocked down 2.3 threes per game while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc.

He already features an NBA frame (6'8'', 220 pounds) with the size of a wing but the playmaking ability of a guard. He's capable of defending multiple positions, and his turnover problems started to fade late in his time with the Cowboys, tallying just six over his final 103 college minutes.

Simply put: Cunningham is the total package. He's the perfect prospect for the modern game, and his overall offensive efficiency should only improve as he gains more experience.

While there have been myriad rumors about the different directions Detroit could go, it always felt like staying at No. 1 to select the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year was the team's best option. He's the cornerstone it needs to send rebuilding efforts into overdrive.

Other top-five prospects, including Jalen Green and Evan Mobley, appear destined for long, successful NBA careers of their own, but Cunningham has appeared a step above the rest throughout the process.

Now it sounds like he's a few hours away from becoming the new face of the Pistons franchise.