2021 NBA Draft Profile



Round 11
Drafted By:Detroit Pistons
6-8 / 220 lbs
Oklahoma State
Draft 2021

Draft Home | Draft Board | Teams | Prospects

About Cade Cunningham

• Cade Cunningham is a gifted point-forward whose size, instincts carrying an offense, and improvement as a jump shooter shined during his lone season at Oklahoma State.  Solidifying himself as one of the top prospects in the high school class of 2020 following a standout summer playing up for the United States at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Championship, the Texas native capped his prep career at Montverde Academy (FL) with McDonald’s All-American and Naismith Prep Player of the Year honors.

• One of the most anticipated recruits in recent years, the 19-year-old was the lone freshman tabbed as a Preseason All-American heading into the 2020-21 season.  Still managing to exceed expectations as he lifted Head Coach Mike Boynton’s Oklahoma State Cowboys to an NCAA Tournament berth while averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game, Cunningham not only swept the Big XII’s top individual honors but was named National Freshman of the Year and a Consensus First-Team All-American.

• Listed at 6’8 with a solid 220-pound frame and a 7’0 wingspan, Cunningham has good size for a small forward, but unique dimensions for a player who plays primarily point guard. He is a fluid athlete whose combination of size and body control outweigh his lack of elite explosiveness.

• Among the most productive players in college basketball last season, Cunningham filled a massive role for an Oklahoma State team that looked to push the pace but lacked much in the way of three-point shooting. Playing almost exclusively on the ball, he was tasked with creating extensively for himself and others against staggering attention from opposing defenses.  Showing more vision and unselfishness than his assist-numbers suggest while leading the country in clutch scoring and frequently finding ways to making something out of nothing when the moment called for it, his ability to strike a balance between his team’s need for his scoring and his natural instincts whipping the ball around as a passer game-to-game stands prominently among elite one-and-done prospects in recent years.

• Competing with good energy and helping control tempo making an effort to grab and go off the defensive glass, Cunningham was strikingly solid for stretches defensively last season given the burden he carried offensively.

Advanced Stats 

• A savvy point-forward with an advanced feel for the game, Cunningham thrived in a role that allowed him to play to his strengths as a shot creator, but also tested his ability to score one-on-one. Though he did a third of his scoring in the half court out of ball screens and created more shots passing out of the pick and roll than he attempted himself, over a quarter of his possessions came in one-on-one situations as Oklahoma State leaned heavily on his ability to exploit match ups.

• Using his size and ability to change speeds to create shots from all three levels against defenses typically packing the paint, Cunningham averaged 0.87 points per dribble jump shot in the half court [65th percentile] but 1.33 points per shot around the rim [82nd percentile]. Though he showed the ability to score with both hands and finish above the rim in spots when he could find lanes to the rim, over half of his shots last season were pull-up jumpers or floaters as driving lanes were not easy to come by.  Able to get to his jump shot fluidly in a variety of ways in the midrange when he could not turn the corner, Cunningham has some room to improve his floater and his consistency stopping and popping with range but should benefit from the spacing of the NBA.

• His natural ability as a passer shined last season despite how aggressive he had to be looking for his own shot and his 0.8 assist to turnover ratio in the half court. Playing with good pace, possessing impressive vision, and delivering all manner of passes on the move with both hands, his size and unselfishness give him unique promise as a playmaker.

• Looking increasingly confident in his jump shot as the season wore on, Cunningham scored an impressive 1.30 points per catch and shoot jump shot [90th percentile] on the year relishing the rare opportunities he got to slide off the ball. His poise translated at the foul line where he went 47-50 in clutch situations as he emerged as one of the best closers in recent college basketball history.

• Ranked 1st in the NCAA and 1st in the Big XII in clutch scoring (103 points)

• Ranked 7th in the NCAA and 1st in the Big XII in isolation scoring (3.5 points per game)

• Ranked 4th in the Big XII in pick and roll scoring (5.0 points per game)

Defensive Analysis

• An attentive defender with good length and a solid frame who had some very positive moments both on and off the ball, Cunningham often more than held his own as a freshman. He allowed 0.45 point per isolation possession [85th percentile], fared pretty well switching to guard multiple positions, chipped in on the glass, and made an effort in rotation on the perimeter.

• Taking some risks but showing good instincts in the passing lanes, Cunningham was more physical and aggressive some games than others, but was a reliable contributor for a team that leaned heavily on his ability to get stops


— Profile by Synergy Sports