Cunningham is all in on Detroit.
“I love Detroit,” Cunningham said when speaking to the media via Zoom on Friday. “I’ve already been listening to Detroit music and things like that way before the draft lottery or any of that stuff. I was already hip to the culture in Detroit…
“If Detroit picks me, that’s the main thing I would try to do, step in and embody the swag that people from Detroit walk with, the people from Michigan in general. They kind of 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 like 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 wearing red, white, and blue.”
That is perfect PR and how you get fans behind you before you even walk on the stage, put on the hat, and shake Adam Silver’s hand.
Cunningham met and worked out for the Pistons, the only team he will work out for prior to the 2021 NBA Draft.
“I wanted to meet with the team that had the No. 1 pick because I feel I’m the No. 1 pick,” Cunningham said, adding that if the Rockets trade up and get the top pick, he’d meet with them.
That trade is not going to happen. The Rockets are interested in moving up from No. 2, according to league sources, but the Pistons have done their homework and, barring a Godfather offer, are keeping the pick — and taking Cunningham.
The reason is Cunningham’s potential as a 6’8″ playmaker who can both score and pass, a perfect fit for the modern game. It reminds some people of a 6’8″ playmaker from Europe selected a few seasons ago.
“I hear a lot of the Luka [Doncic] comparisons and I can see it….” Cunningham said, but later said he doesn’t like the comparisons to people he will have to play against.
“There are a lot of guys who are bigger playmakers, primary ballhandlers. It’s hard for me. I don’t like comparing myself to people around my age. We are about to play each other.”
Luka Doncic has unquestionably developed playing in Dallas, quickly becoming a First Team All-NBA player on his way to a Rose Rule supermax extension. Cunningham sees that kind of development potential in Detroit.
“Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey were both all-rookie team,” Cunningham said of the two Pistons draft picks from a year ago. “That’s a direct correlation of what the staff is doing with their players and the time they put into development.”
Pistons fans are hoping for that and more with Cunningham this year.