The Detroit Pistons had the great fortune of moving up one spot in the 2021 NBA Draft lottery to secure the first overall pick. As has been the case for more than half a year now, Cade Cunningham is the presumptive pick at the top. Everyone has accepted that he resides in a tier above all the other prospects, and while Detroit will do their due diligence and all that good draft smokescreen stuff, Cunningham will be the pick.
That's not very interesting, though, is it? "Bad team gets first pick, takes best player" is not the thrilling storyline that gets clicks online and eyeballs on debate television unless there's a generational prospect in line to be selected. Cunningham is very good but not quite on the Zion Williamson pantheon of hype.
Teams including Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans and Oklahoma City are among those making overtures to evaluate what it would take to move up to the No. 1 slot, sources say, but those talks are at an early stage, and any trade is unlikely to be consummated until much closer to the draft, if at all.
Givony is reporting what he heard, which is in his job description. But this kind of quote, in combination with what Givony said earlier in the column and what other reporters have said, are creating a buzz around that first overall selection that doesn't really exist outside of the rumor mill.
For example, Givony starts off this piece by saying that Cunningham is absolutely not a lock at this stage.
Cunningham is not any kind of lock at No. 1 from everything I've gathered. Detroit is continuing to conduct due diligence on a group that also includes Jalen Green and especially Evan Mobley, while also exploring several trade opportunities that have emerged.
Several paragraphs later, though...
But would the Pistons really pass on Cunningham if the draft were tonight? I still think the answer is no. I would put Cunningham as the overwhelming favorite to end up in Detroit at that spot still, which, by the way, I've been told he would be very excited about.
James Edwards III, the Pistons beat writer for The Athletic, had a similar sentiment when participating in The Athletic's beat writer mock draft. It could be someone other than Cunningham. Sources suggest that's not out of the realm of possibility. But the conclusion remains the same.
Now that the history lesson is out of the way, Cade Cunningham is expected to be the pick. However, sources tell me that Jalen Green and Evan Mobley are also in strong consideration for Detroit.
Cunningham, though, is the most complete player in the draft. In a perimeter-based, playmaking league, he’s the answer to the Pistons’ retooling. At 6-foot-8, Cunningham is a knockdown shooter, a premier passer and a really, really good defender. He’d slot in as Detroit’s primary ball-handler and offensive initiator. And with last year’s No. 7 pick Killian Hayes still very much in the picture, Cunningham can float to an off-ball role for stints, too. He’s the type of player you build your team around.
Again, not going after Edwards or any other reporter who puts something like this out there. It's just much ado about nothing.
Every team in the draft would like the first overall selection. The Pistons are going to look at every potential prospect very closely and let people know they aren't 100 percent certain yet because admitting it outright doesn't help them. Keeping other teams in the dark might help them. Detroit doesn't have anything else to do except grind tape. Even with all that in mind, no matter how many times we see some iteration of the above reports about a trade or someone other than Cunningham in the running for the No. 1 pick, it won't matter. Because Cade Cunningham will be a Piston. The rest is just noise.