Pistons select teen guard Cunningham first in NBA Draft

Published July 30, 2021, 9:19 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

Cade Cunningham poses for photos on the red carpet during the 2021 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on July 29, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Cade Cunningham, a 19-year-old guard who played at Oklahoma State University last season, was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the first pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals a game in college after helping spark a US victory in the 2019 Under-19 Basketball World Cup.

“It’s still crazy. Words can’t really explain the emotions,” Cunningham said. “I’m ready to see what I can do at the next level.”

Cunningham going to the “Motor City” sets up a perfect nickname — Motor Cade — for a Pistons team that went 20-52 last season and won the NBA Draft Lottery on June 22 to claim the top pick.

The Houston Rockets, who had the NBA’s worst record at 17-55 last season, chose second and picked 19-year-old shooting guard Jalen Green from the Ignite prospects team of the G-League, the NBA’s top development circuit.

Green was the highest pick to skip the US college scene, following the path of LaMelo Ball, who was taken third overall last year after opting to play in Australia.

Green averaged 17.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game last season for Ignite.

The Cleveland Cavaliers used the third overall selection on Evan Mobley, a 7-foot power forward who averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game at the University of Southern California last season.

Toronto selected Florida State forward Scottie Barnes fourth and Orlando took guard Jalen Suggs fifth overall.

Aussie Giddey to OKC

Australian guard Josh Giddey, 18, went sixth overall to Oklahoma City. The son of two Aussie pro players, Giddey averaged 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.6 assists a game for Adelaide of the Australian National Basketball League last season.

Jonathan Kuminga, an 18-year-old forward from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was taken seventh overall by Golden State. He left Africa for the United States at age 13 and hadn’t seen his parents since then until they came to see him at the draft.

“It was a hard thing to do but it was something I had to do to make my parents proud,” Kuminga said. “I feel like it motivated me to be the best person I could be.”

Kuminga wants to be an example to African youth dreaming of an NBA career.

“It means a lot to the African kids that I’ve been able to do all the things I’m able to do,” he said.

German 19-year-old forward Franz Wagner from the University of Michigan went eighth to Orlando, where he will be a teammate of older brother Mo.

“He just told me to enjoy every moment and have fun with it,” the younger Wagner sibling said.

 
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