Draft Analyst Explains Why NBA Teams Love Cade Cunningham For His Versatility

Published 03/20/2021, 2:00 PM EDT
Feb 3, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Cade Cunningham (2) in action during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports


As the NBA Draft gets closer, the case for Cade Cunningham to be the number one pick only grows stronger. Players entering the Draft are often compared to players already in the NBA. But Cunningham’s case is completely different.

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According to Draft Analyst Mike Schmitz, NBA teams love Cunningham for his versatility. Later Schmitz compared him to not one, not two, but three different NBA players, and how he can take on multiple roles.

He said, “(Cade is) someone that you can use as a big ball-handler in a Luka Doncic role. 6’8”, can see over the top, make every pick and roll read, wants the ball in his hands late clock, loves those step-back threes.

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“Or he can play the wing scorer role like Jayson Tatum. He can catch and shoot, operate from mid-post, has the tools to defend multiple positions. Or you can use him like Khris Middleton. As a secondary ball-handler, who can play out of those inside pick and rolls, make players around him better, and score at all three levels.”

Looking at how Cade Cunningham developed into a multi-positional star in a year at Oklahoma State

When the #1 high school prospect Cunningham arrived at the Oklahoma State Cowboys, he came in as a tall playmaker. His shooting was one of his weaknesses, and his defense wasn’t the most consistent. Finally, his decision to choose the Cowboys made a lot of fans feel he was going to stunt his growth since he rejected offers from a lot of top colleges.

Feb 27, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Cade Cunningham (2) drives to the basket against Oklahoma Sooners guard Elijah Harkless (24) during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Oklahoma State won 94-90. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

But four months since he made his debut, Cunningham has proved he is only getting better. He has gone from being just a playmaker to a scorer, closer, and also a shooter when needed. In fact, his playmaking skills have hardly been used so far. The reason being he is the #1 option on the team, which makes scoring his first priority.

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When he enters the NBA, a lot of attention will go towards his playmaking. The lottery teams won’t need him to be the main scorer, so he can facilitate more and create for his team.

So Cade is a player that no team can pass on citing team needs. He is a player that teams should be making space for, and should be the undisputed number one overall pick.

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Aaron Mathew

1542 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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