Cade Cunningham Scores 12 as Luka Garza, Pistons Fall to Thunder in Summer League

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 9, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 8: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons looks on during the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League on August 8, 2021 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons got a first glimpse of their future as Cade Cunningham made his debut in the NBA Summer League on Sunday.

Detroit lost 76-72 to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and Cunningham won't be headed to the Hall of Fame off the back of just one summer league game. He finished with 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting while adding six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. He also totaled five turnovers.

The 6'8" playmaker got off to a strong start, hitting a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

CADE FROM DEEP πŸ‘€<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a>)<a href="https://t.co/BFAZFSePND">pic.twitter.com/BFAZFSePND</a>

Beyond the obvious reasons, summer league may not be a great showcase for Cunningham because so much of his game stems from getting his teammates involved. Building continuity is difficult for a team that's just coming together, and one that will be different from the roster the Pistons are throwing out on opening night.

LeVelle Moton @LeVelleMoton

Cade's biggest gift is his passing ability not scoring...With all due respect, In the regular season, he'll be playing with guys that catch and finish those dimes

Praising a player's effort level can sometimes be damning with faint praise. In the case of Cunningham, it's a solid indicator of what fans can expect as he works through the issues that are inevitable for any first-year star.

Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA

It's been mixed results for Cade Cunningham offensively so far, but the biggest thing that's stood out so far is that he plays really hard.

He started a one-man fast break in the third quarter after picking the pocket of Tre Mann.


Cade Cunningham shows some bounce on this fast break πŸ’₯ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBASummer?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBASummer</a> <a href="https://t.co/juyXVdAqU7">pic.twitter.com/juyXVdAqU7</a>

Detroit Pistons @DetroitPistons

That's 2️⃣ much sauce. πŸ”₯<a href="https://twitter.com/CadeCunningham_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CadeCunningham_</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/WynnBET?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WynnBET</a> <a href="https://t.co/WI8UvcvXRY">pic.twitter.com/WI8UvcvXRY</a>

Cunningham wasn't the only notable Pistons rookie in action as Luka Garza made his Detroit debut.

Second-round picks generally don't find a ton of success in the NBA, but Garza was a two-time first-team All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year at Iowa.

The 6'11" big man was noticeably slimmer from the 265 pounds he was listed at in his final year with the Hawkeyes.

Jason Patt @Bulls_Jay

holy hell Luka Garza looks like a totally different dude out there

Garza made a nice first impression in his 12:59 on the floor, putting up nine points and four rebounds.

Jake @jakeweingarten

Luka Garza is playing with a high-motor. The physical development is evident and he’s got five early points, including 2/2 from the field and one three-pointer. Once again, looks much smoother on his feet, still early, but looks great nonetheless.

Rod Beard @detnewsRodBeard

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pistons?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Pistons</a> Luka Garza has been pretty good defensively.

Cunningham, Garza and the Pistons will be back on the court Tuesday against the Houston Rockets in what might be the most anticipated matchup of the summer league. Jalen Green, the No. 2 pick in the draft, put up 23 points and five rebounds as Houston beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 84-76 on Sunday.