– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 30, 2021
Cunningham was generally expected to be the first name called to New York, although Pistons general manager Troy Weaver did not reveal his plans earlier this week and said the team would review all scenarios, including transactions.
In the end, Detroit stayed with the 19-year-old mentioned as a potential first choice before setting foot on the Oklahoma state campus.
The 6-foot-8, 220-pound playmaker from Arlington, TX has lived up to expectations with his size and fluid play to become an Associated Press All-American first team. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists with a game that allowed him to hit from 3 points, score the dribble or find teammates out of the traps.
Cunningham – the first player in Oklahoma State history to be chosen No.1 overall – joins a Pistons franchise that has won 20 games for two consecutive seasons and finished no better than 0.500 for five years consecutive.
Cunningham was headlining a class that included scorers, playmakers and potentially elite defenders at the top. That squad included Southern California freshman bigman Evan Mobley, Gonzaga first-year point guard Jalen Suggs and Florida State freshman forward Scottie Barnes.
There are also two pro-prep hopefuls in goalkeeper Jalen Green and forward Jonathan Kuminga, both of whom have bypassed college basketball to play in the G League.
The draft is later than its traditional late-June slot for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted the 2019-20 season. The 2021-22 season is set to return to its normal schedule, with next year’s draft again scheduled for June.