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Cade Cunningham Ruled Out for Pistons' Season Opener vs. Bulls with Ankle Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVOctober 20, 2021

AP Photo/Chase Stevens

Detroit Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham will have to wait to make his NBA debut, as he has been ruled out of Wednesday's season opener against the Chicago Bulls because of a right ankle sprain.

The 2021 No. 1 overall pick suffered what head coach Dwane Casey called a "very mild" ankle injury during training camp in early October. A few days later, he followed up to say the team's medical staff were taking every precaution with the young playmaker, thus making it difficult to pin down a date for when he'd return to full action.

That return will not come Wednesday.

Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his one season at Oklahoma State. He displayed the kind of potential that made the Pistons justifiably believe he can be the cornerstone of their rebuild.

Jerami Grant was a pleasant surprise for Detroit as he thrived in a larger role than he had occupied with his previous teams. Still, he couldn't prevent the team from finishing with the second-worst record in the league.

As good as the Oklahoma State product is, a 20-year-old rookie can only be expected to do so much in terms of winning in the short term.

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A long-term injury to a player as important as Cunningham is to the Pistons' future would be a major cause for concern. If he only misses a brief stretch of games, it's unlikely to change the direction of their 2021-22 campaign.

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