Detroit Pistons certain that overall No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham’s shooting touch will come around

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham takes an inbounds pass in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday in Detroit. (AP photo)

Cade Cunningham’s final shot of his most recent game was a 3-point try from the left wing as time was running out against the Brooklyn Nets, an attempt that never got anywhere near the rim.

Kevin Durant swatted it away with ease.

And weirdly, that was a good thing for the Detroit Pistons.

The first four games of Cunningham’s NBA career have not exactly been the stuff of lore: He’s shooting 23%, the worst by any No. 1 overall pick not named Anthony Bennett (who famously went 0 for 15 in his first four games) in that span over the last 55 seasons. But the Pistons are not worried whatsoever about their rookie, who missed the preseason and the start of the regular season while recovering from a sprained ankle.

The way they see it, the more adversity Cunningham handles now, the faster he’ll grow.

“He’s learning in real time in real games,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “It’s on the job training.”

Given that he was hurt and missed the traditional ramp-up to the season, Cunningham’s numbers don’t stack up well with some other rookies so far this season — though there is obviously a ton of time for that to change, and likely will.

And the injury also makes it unfair to compare Cunningham’s very early, very small body of work against other No. 1 picks, especially since many of them had big numbers in their rookie seasons. Anthony Edwards averaged 19.3 points for Minnesota last season, Zion Williamson 22.5 points in 24 games for New Orleans the year before that, Deandre Ayton a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double average the year before that.

“It’s just going to take the young man some games to get his sea legs under him,” Casey said. “He had no exhibition, had no training camp. It’s four games now and I think you’re going to see him grow and grow and grow.”

Cunningham is at 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, off to a 4-for-28 start from 3-point range and has appeared in just one Pistons victory so far.

This is clear, too: The Pistons are telling the No. 1 pick to shoot his way out of the slow start.

“Cade keeps shooting, no matter what,” Pistons forward Saddiq Bey said. “Not afraid to take the shots in the big moments. I think that’s good. We need that and it’s going to be good for us in the future.”


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