Pistons pick Cunningham as top pick in NBA draft
NEW YORK (AP) — Cade Cunningham sure looked like the No. 1 overall draft pick all year at Oklahoma State with his fluid game, scoring ability and passing — all in a 6-foot-8 frame.
So it was no surprise the Detroit Pistons would grab the freshman All-American with the top pick as they did to open the draft Thursday night in New York. And it was the start of multiple teams spending high picks on playmakers with size, including Florida State forward Scottie Barnes and Australian teenager Josh Giddey climbing a bit higher than expected as top-six picks.
It comes at a time when the game has evolved to a more position-free flow, making players like Cunningham, Barnes and Giddey more valuable than ever with their ability to roam all over the court.
Cunningham had been widely expected to be the first name called in New York, though Pistons general manager Troy Weaver wouldn’t reveal plans earlier this week and said the team would look at every scenario, including trades. In the end, Detroit stuck with the 19-year-old mentioned as a potential top pick before ever stepping foot on the Oklahoma State campus.
The point guard from Arlington, Texas, lived up to expectations to become a first-team Associated Press All-American. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists with a game that allowed him to hit from 3-point range, score off the dribble or find teammates out of traps.
“It’s still pretty surreal to me,” Cunningham said. “I know how much responsibility comes with being the No. 1 pick. I know how much responsibility a city will put on the guy that they take No. 1. I’m more than excited to take on those tasks and try to deliver to the city of Detroit.”
Barnes had risen mock drafts but offered the first surprise by going to Toronto with the No. 4 pick ahead of Gonzaga freshman point guard Jalen Suggs. Barnes is a long-armed 6-8 forward who ran the Seminoles’ offense and has the capability to be an elite defender with his length and ability to chase smaller ball handlers on the perimeter.
That’s why Barnes felt he could “fit right in doing different things” with the Raptors.
“A lot of what we like is his versatility,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “He’ll rebound it, he can guard, he can switch and guard multiple positions and he’s big enough to guard bigs down inside. He’s big enough to rebound with bigs. And we like to get out and go with the guys who are grabbing the rebound a lot.”
Two picks later, Oklahoma City grabbed Giddey, who was considered a potential lottery pick as a 6-8 floor leader known for his passing touch. He had played in Australia’s National Basketball League with an all-around game (10.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.2 assists) and has been part of the NBA Academy program designed to develop elite international prospects.
“It was really something I wanted to be a part of and kind of start from the bottom and move our way up in the league,” Giddey said. “It’s a great young team and I can’t wait to get down there and get started.”
The draft included numerous trades, including one set to send All-Star Russell Westbrook from Washington to the Los Angeles Lakers in the biggest move of the night.
The draft started with Cunningham, who attended the draft wearing a dark suit, shirt and tie with sparkles on his collars and cuffs. When the pick was announced, Cunningham kissed 2-year-old daughter Riley, sitting on his lap, then hugged family members and took the stage alongside NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to don a blue Pistons hat.
Houston followed at No. 2 by grabbing preps-to-pros teenager Jalen Green, who bypassed college basketball to play in the G League. The 6-foot-6 Green averaged 17.9 points on 46% shooting 15 games, showing off high-flying dunks, a willingness to attack the rim and a promising shooting touch.
Next up was Southern California freshman big man Evan Mobley, who went to Cleveland at No. 3. Suggs and G League forward Jonathan Kuminga were the other players considered to be in the draft’s top tier, with Suggs going fifth to Orlando and Kuminga seventh to Golden State.
Michigan forward Franz Wagner (to Orlando), point guard Davion Mitchell (Sacramento) of NCAA champion Baylor and Stanford forward Ziaire Williams (New Orleans) rounded out the top 10. And by the midway point, Gonzaga (Suggs and forward Corey Kispert) and Tennessee (guards Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer) were the only two schools to produce multiple first-round picks.
The second round included three AP first-team All-Americans in Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu (No. 38 pick by Chicago), Baylor point guard Jared Butler (No. 40 by New Orleans), and Iowa high-scoring big man Luka Garza (No. 52 by Detroit) after he was named AP national player of the year.
There also was a tribute to Kentucky freshman guard Terrence Clarke, who died after an April car accident after declaring for the draft. Silver announced Clarke as an honorary draft pick midway through the first round, bringing Clarke’s mother, sister and brother to the stage.
National Basketball Association
2021 Free Agent Draft
1. Detroit, Cade Cunningham, g, Oklahoma State.
2. Houston, Jalen Green, g, NBA G League Ignite.
3. Cleveland, Evan Mobley, c, USC.
4. Toronto, Scottie Barnes, f, Florida State.
5. Orlando, Jalen Suggs, g, Gonzaga.
6. Oklahoma City, Josh Giddey, g, Adelaide (Australia).
7. Golden State (from Minnesota), Johnathan Kuminga, f, NBA G League Ignite.
8. Orlando (from Chicago), Franz Wagner, g/f, Michigan.
9. Sacramento, Davion Mitchell, g, Baylor.
10. a-New Orleans, Ziaire Williams, f, Stanford.
11. Charlotte, James Bouknight, g, UConn.
12. San Antonio, Joshua Primo, g, Alabama.
13. Indiana, Chris Duarte, g, Oregon.
14. Golden State, Moses Moody, g, Arkansas.
15. Washington, Corey Kispert, f, Gonzaga.
16. b-Oklahoma City (from Boston), Alperen Sengun, c, Besiktas (Turkey).
17. a-Memphis, Trey Murphy, g, Virginia.
18. Oklahoma City (from Miami), Tre Mann, g, Florida.
19. c-New York, Kai Jones, f, Texas.
20. Atlanta, Jalen Johnson, g/f, Duke.
21. d-New York (from Dallas), Keon Johnson, g, Tennessee.
22. e,g-LA Lakers, Isaiah Jackson, f, Kentucky.
23. Houston (from Portland), Usman Garuba, f, Real Madrid (Spain).
24. Houston (from Milwaukee), Josh Christopher, g, Arizona State.
25. d-LA Clippers, Quentin Grimes, g, Houston.
26. Denver, Nah’Shon Hyland, g, VCU.
27. Brooklyn, Cameron Thomas, g, LSU.
28. Philadelphia, Jaden Springer, g, Tennessee.
29. f-Phoenix, Day’Ron Sharpe, c, North Carolina.
30. k-Utah, Santi Aldama, g, Loyola (Md.).
31. g,h-Milwaukee (from Houston), Isaiah Todd, f, NBA G League Ignite.
32. i-New York (from Detroit), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, f, Villanova.
33. j-Orlando, Jason Preston, g, Ohio.
34. i-Oklahoma City, Rokas Jokubaitis, g, Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania).
35. New Orleans, Herbert Jones, f, Alabama.
36. i-Oklahoma City, Miles McBride, g, West Virginia.
37. l-Detroit, JT Thor, f, Auburn.
38. Chicago, Ayo Dosunmu, g, Illinois.
39. Sacramento, Neemias Queta, c, Utah State.
40. a,k-New Orleans, Jared Butler, g, Baylor.
41. San Antonio, Joe Wieskamp, g, Iowa.
42. Detroit, Isaiah Livers, f, Michigan.
43. m-New Orleans, Greg Brown, f, Texas.
44. Brooklyn, Kessler Edwards, f, Pepperdine.
45. Boston, Juhann Begarin, g, Paris Basketball (France).
46. Toronto (from Memphis), Dalano Banton, g, Nebraska.
47. Toronto (from Golden State), David Johnson, g, Louisville.
48. Atlanta (from Miami), Sharife Cooper, g, Auburn.
49. Brooklyn (from Atlanta), Marcus Zegarowski, g, Creighton.
50. Philadelphia (from New York), Filip Petrusev, c, Mega Basket (Serbia).
51. a-Memphis, Brandon Boston Jr., g, Kentucky.
52. Detroit (from LA Lakers), Luka Garza, c, Iowa.
53. Philadelphia (from New Orleans through Dallas), Charles Bassey, c, Western Kentucky.
54. h-Indiana, Sandro Mamukelashvili, c, Seton Hall.
55. Oklahoma City (from Denver), Aaron Wiggins, g, Maryland.
56. Charlotte (from LA Clippers), Scottie Lewis, g, Florida.
57. l-Charlotte (from Brooklyn), Balsa Koprivica, c, Florida State.
58. New York (from Philadelphia), Jericho Sims, f, Texas.
59. Brooklyn (from Phoenix), RaiQuan Gray, f, Florida State.
60. h-Indiana (from Utah), Georgios Kalaitzakis, g/f, Panathinaikos (Greece).
a-Memphis traded C Jonas Valanciunas and the rights to (No. 17) and (No. 51) to New Orleans for C Steven Adams, G Eric Bledsoe, the rights of (No. 10), (No. 40) and a protected 2022 first-round pick.
b-Oklahoma City traded the rights of (No. 16) to Houston for a future protected first-round pick.
c-New York traded the rights of (No. 19) to Charlotte for a future first-round pick.
d-New York traded the rights of (No. 21) to LA Clippers for the rights to (No. 25) and a future second-round draft pick.
e-Washington traded G Russell Westbrook, a 2024 second-round pick and a 2028 second-round pick to LA Lakers for F Kyle Kuzma, G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, F Montrezl Harrell and the rights to (No. 22).
f-Phoenix traded G Jevon Carter and the rights of (No. 29) to Brooklyn for G Landry Shamet.
g-Washington traded the rights of (No. 22) to Indiana for G Aaron Holiday and the rights of (No. 31).
h-Indiana traded the rights to (No. 54), (No. 60) and two future second-round picks to Milwaukee for the rights of (No. 31).
i-New York traded the rights of (No. 32) to Oklahoma City for the rights to (No. 34) and (No. 36).
j-Orlando traded the rights of (No. 33) to LA Clippers for a future second-round pick and cash considerations.
k-Utah traded the rights of (No. 30) to Memphis for the rights of (No. 40) and two future second-round picks.
l-Detroit traded F Mason Plumlee and the rights of (No. 37) to Charlotte for the rights of (No. 57).
m-New Orleans traded the rights of (No. 43) to Portland for a future second-round pick and cash considerations.