Detroit's franchise player looked back in prime form after returning from last season's injury.
Why It Matters for Cade Cunningham and the Detroit Pistons
The long-awaited return for Detroit Pistons‘ point guard Cade Cunningham arrived on Thursday. After only playing 12 games and missing 70 due to a shin injury, Cunningham returned to action against the Miami Heat in Detroit's regular season opener. While rust or a slow start could have been anticipated after missing so much time, the Pistons' franchise player displayed that star ability fans have been anticipating.
Cunningham's all-around skillset was on high notice against Miami as he dropped 30 points and scored 9 assists. The Pistons trailed by as many as 19 points and Cunningham was a major reason they climbed within one possession of stealing a victory Thursday. Even in a 103-102 loss to the Heat, there was plenty to admire from the Pistons' focal point player.
Detroit's offense primarily went through their point guard as he attacked all three levels with his scoring and set up his teammates with open looks when possible. His shooting efficiency also showed some promise from mid-range and from three. Cunningham shot 13-27 from the field along with 4-9 from deep.
The impressive production did not come easy as Cunningham consistently faced numerous double teams from the Heat defense. His teammates also struggled to find their offensive continuity as well. Detroit's offense became stagnant at numerous points in the game and had to lean on Cunningham to keep them afloat.
Cunningham did not take his return lightly as he reflected on the moment in the postgame media presser. The media asked about what the return meant to him after missing so much of last season due to his season-ending shin injury.
All glory to God, first and foremost. It’s crazy to be back on the court, back with my brothers competing. I’m just thankful and lucky to be doing what I do. I just kind of carried that with me and wanted to play hard and stay in the moment and let the game be what it is.”Cade Cunningham via Mike Curtis of the Detroit News when asked about his return from injury
Cunningham's leadership is one of the strongest qualities of his game, especially when playing on one of the youngest teams in the NBA. The media also asked Cunningham about what the team's resiliency meant after being down by as many as 19 points.
Coach (Monty Williams) has been talking about resiliency. That's something I just feel like each member of this team is naturally resilient and tough-minded. I think we have a great group in that way and that's why it's so fun being around these guys. The way our second group and got us back into the game, and the way our team as a whole competed…that's something we can build off of for sure.”Cade Cunnigham via Mike Curtis of the Detroit News when asked about the Pistons battling back from a big defecit
Coach Williams also spoke highly of Cunningham's leadership of how he encouraged his teammates “not to hang their heads while down”. He also noted how his leadership has sprung throughout the rest of the team as leaders in their own way.
So much of Detroit's development is reliant on the growth of their leader in Cunningham. While it is unlikely that this pace will be maintained all season, it is extremely enlightening to see the potential of the Pistons' 2021 No.1 overall pick. Detroit's winning restoration is taking its time, but the Pistons should remain competitive this season as long as their franchise point guard remains healthy and productive.