Floor - High level starter
Bullseye - Perennial All NBA
Ceiling - Best player on title team, MVP
Pass - Grade: 90
Notes: Incredible passing arsenal, especially given his age and size. Elite level patience, understanding of angles, and exhibits amazing timing on his passes. Can count on him to make the right the read 85%+ of the time, which is crazy high for a young player with a high usage rate. Passing range is very deep, has displayed ability to make multiple kinds of passes at a high level: skip passes, outlets, one-handed passes with either hand, drive and kick, PnR, great at hitting shooters in stride and hitting bigs in position to score. Can make any kind of pass in the book with great poise and manipulation. Top 5 passer in the draft without question. Occasionally will force passes through windows that are that close too quickly, but usually come from good intentions and shouldn't be too big of an issue in the NBA.
Dribble - Grade: 83
Notes: Great patience and manipulation with his dribble, and dictates offensive tempo with his handle and poise. Great at using his handle to create space for his own shot, particularly in PnR. Very fluid dribbler with both hands. Very good at changing speeds, especially deceleration. Does not have a very diverse arsenal of dribble moves, and handle could be tightened a bit. These small flaws are maximized by the fact that Cunningham does not have an elite first step and is not particularly quick off the dribble. Overly reliant on his in-and-out dribble. Cunningham has the portion of ball handling that is much harder to learn in his game already (poise, tempo, control, changing speeds), he just needs to fine tune his handle and expand his arsenal to take that next level as a scorer and playmaker. Also struggles a bit with ball security when facing high pressure defenses. I expect Cunningham to progress in this area quickly within his first few seasons.
3pt shooting - Grade: 87
Notes: 41.2% on 136 3PA. Can shoot off the dribble and off the catch. Very smooth and fluid jumper with good mechanics. Has a slow gather but a pretty quick release.
Mid-range shooting - Grade: 86
Notes: Cunningham is a true three level scorer. Very fluid mid-range jumper, and very good at getting to his spots particularly in PnR. Can hit while fading away, leaning forward, or straight up. Great at always being squared up to hoop and rarely forces his shot. Solid elevation on his middies too.
Finishing - Grade: 90
Notes: Great and versatile finisher. Can use either hand at the rim and finish with power and finesse. Great at slashing and protecting the ball while driving, and doesn't get tunnel vision even when he puts his head down (something he does often). Great and initiating contact to draw fouls and find angles to finish. Knows when to initiate contact and when to avoid. As with the rest of the offensive game, is very poised and under control when attacking and finishing. Will rarely see him force a fling up or flail when missing a shot after contact. Extremely skilled in the post, and a great finisher from there.
Off-ball playmaking - Grade: 88
Notes: Comfortable playing off-ball. Rarely takes plays off. Good cutter, knows when to clear/relocate, and will even screen for guys. Is still very much a positive without the ball in hands, for the reasons listed above and his ability to be a good C&S three point shooter.
Offensive rebounding - Grade: 86
Notes: Crashes offensive glass often. Has a real nose for the ball and is proactive. Capable of above the rim put-backs and tip outs to his teammates.
Offensive Summary: 95
Cunningham is as polished of an offensive prospect as you will see coming out of the draft. The game already comes slowly to him, and he's rarely fazed by anything. Always under control, always poised, and always playing at his pace. Dictates the tempo of his team on offense. Is effective on and off ball. Already a true three level scorer with a post game, and is an elite passer in all facets. He will spearhead the Pistons offense immediately. So few weaknesses in his offensive game already. Can play however you need him to and he will be effective in that role.
Engagement - Grade: 90
Notes: Always engaged and very smart. While it may appear he is not the most vocal guy at times, he's constantly active and can be seen directing traffic quite often. Active and engaged on and off balls, very good at sniffing out plays and always super engaged in the gap and passing lanes.
Containment - Grade: 81
Notes: While a very versatile man-to-man defender with great body-up ability and core strength, Cunningham lacks lateral quickness to guard quicker players. Can get beat on close outs when he's too aggressive, but this doesn't happen often. Can check guards situationally but not for multiple possessions. Overall a good POA defender, and great at beating guys to the spot. Inconsistent as an isolation defender and gets screened easier than you would think as PnR ball handler defender.
Team Defense - Grade: 90
Notes: Amazing IQ. Calls out actions early, bumps runners, cuts off cutters, rotates on time, has a knack for making players second guess themselves in 2 on 1 situations, versatility allows him to be a free safety at times. Always knows where and he everyone else is supposed to be, and will let them know. A knowledgeable leader with great instincts.
Rim Protection - Grade: 86
Notes: Great timing on help around the basket, has displayed his knack for come from behind blocks as well as top-down blocks. Great rotator and often alters shots when he's down low. Also good at contesting with contact but not fouling. Will sometimes sell out to block a shot down low, resulting in an offensive rebound or dump off.
Playmaking - Grade: 84
Notes: Ability to hound the passing lanes, draw charges, and alter shots make him a good defensive playmaker. His hands are not consistently active on defense which is a bit odd, but may be due to his constant focus on team defense rather than individual defense. Capable defensive playmaker but not his main focus or ability on defense, and this is something Cunningham understands. Will gamble for blocks but not as much for steals, doesn't like being out of position particularly on the perimeter.
Versatility - Grade: 90
Notes: Extremely versatile man-to-man defender, will be able to switch everything in the NBA. Could get to the point where he will guard 3-4 guys on individual possessions at times.
Defensive Rebounding - Grade: 84
Notes: Active defensive rebounder, but will occasionally forgo boxouts. Nose for the ball though and is typically proactive. Likes to push the ball or outlet on rebounds.
Defensive Summary: 91
Notes: All defensive team potential. Offensive usage will have a big impact on how effective Cunningham will be on defense. Extremely versatile and high IQ, and has all the making of an elite defensive wing. Lateral quickness and active hands are the biggest needs of improvement. May be able to focus on his individual matchup and positioning more in the NBA.
Functional Athleticism: 78
Covers a lot of ground but not laterally quick
Doesn't have a quick first step
Solid elevation on finishes and contests
Solid open court speed, mainly with the ball compared to others his size.
Strength and skill makeup for lack of elite athleticism
There's a long list of reasons as to why Cade Cunningham is the clear cut #1 prospect in this draft, but the most outstanding trait that elevates him to a different tier than any other player in this class is his versatility. Cunningham is very good both on and off ball on offense, and is able to guard 1-4 on defense. I don't imagine he'll be guarding quick point guards right of the gate, but I do believe he'll be able to get there at some point as his core strength and balance improves. He already has the positioning and lateral ability to be able to guard quick penetrators. His defensive ceiling is being able to guard the opposing team's best offensive player that's a wing or guard. Cade is also an extremely active and high IQ off-ball defender. He draws charges, has a high deflection rate, is always on point with his rotations, and is great in the gap in passing lanes. Cade's knack for being in the right spot when crashing the defensive class should not be slept on either. Cunningham will be at least be a 16-5-5 guy for his career. Offensively, I think Cade can be a high usage work horse. I believe he will be best suited next to another on-ball creator, but that can range from the likes of a self creating big or wing to a crafty ball dominant point guard. Cunnigham is great in isolation from different spots all over the floor. Not only is he a three level scorer, but he's also got a great post up game that I expect will more than translate to the NBA. He's got elite touch and feel for scoring the ball, and once he's used as a PnR ball handler more and more and is surrounding by true pace and spacing I will feel for the team game-planning against him. Building a team around Cade should be easier than most other young stars due to the fact he fits well next to any type of player. I expect he'll be used on the offensive end in a large variety of ways, as he's so versatile. He's a three-level scorer and a fluid high IQ passer. Makes the right read 9/10, with and without the ball. Nothing more to say than that he'd be a great fit on all 30 teams. It's very rare to be able to say that about a player. Cade's fit in Detroit is great. He's got enticing young pieces of Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart around him. Killian Hayes' development alongside Cade will be fascinating, and I actually think Cade's presence will ease Killian's development significantly. I believe they will take significant pressure off of each other as they can take turns playing on and off ball, something they both like to do. Stewart is a great PnR big for both of them, but I do question if defensively he is a good enough rim protector to be a starting center on a playoff team. I cannot wait to the see the defensive presence of Cade/Bey/Grant as the 2/3/4 on this pistons team, that should be a dominant perimeter defensive trio that's crazy switchable. Detroit is quickly heading in the right direction.