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Report: Pistons 'Encouraging' Cade Cunningham to Get Surgery amid Wembanyama Rumors

Adam WellsNovember 24, 2022

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 7: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons moves the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder on November 7, 2022 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. 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 2022 NBAE (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

Currently sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference standings, the Detroit Pistons could be ready to go into full tank mode in an attempt to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft.

Per The Athletic's James L. Edwards III, the Pistons are "encouraging" Cade Cunningham to have surgery on his injured leg that would "likely" end his season.

While the Pistons are officially listing Cunningham's injury as "left shin soreness," Edwards noted the second-year guard has a stress fracture in his tibia and is continuing to decide between rest or surgery.

NBA reporter Marc Stein noted in his Substack that rival executives have been wondering if the Pistons would prefer to have Cunningham "shut it down for the future" with the hope of landing the top pick in next year's draft to select Victor Wembanyama.

Wembanyama is regarded as the top prospect in the 2023 draft class and a potential generational talent.

B/R's Jonathan Wasserman called Wembanyama the type of talent who is on an "NBA MVP track with good health."

The Pistons announced on Nov. 12 that Cunningham would miss their next four games and be re-evaluated in one week with left shin soreness.

Nearly two weeks since that announcement, there has been no official update on Cunningham's status. He has missed each of the team's last eight games.

Expectations were high in Detroit coming into this season, at least based on where the team has been in recent years. Cunningham had a strong finish to his rookie campaign with 21.1 points on 45.7 percent shooting, 6.5 assists and 5.7 rebounds in 20 starts after the All-Star break.

After adding Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren in the 2022 NBA draft and acquiring Bojan Bogdanović in a trade with the Utah Jazz, the Pistons felt like a team that was trying to make themselves a playoff contender this season.

Things have not gone the way anyone was hoping for, though they did secure back-to-back wins for the first time all season this week by beating the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday and Utah Jazz on Wednesday.

Overall, though, the Pistons have lost 15 of their first 20 games and have the second-worst record in the NBA (Houston Rockets: 3-14). They trail the Brooklyn Nets by 5.5 games for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference.

Cunningham was one of the few bright spots for the Pistons before his injury. The 21-year-old is averaging 19.9 points, 6.0 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game in 12 starts.

The Pistons haven't had a winning record since the 2015-16 season (44-38) and haven't made the playoffs since 2018-19.

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