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Detroit Pistons hoping No. 1 overall draft pick Cade Cunningham is the star they’ve sought

The Houston Rockets’ Jalen Green drives to the basket against the Detroit Pistons’ Cade Cunningham during the second half of an NBA summer league game on Aug. 10 in Las Vegas. (AP file photo)

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

DETROIT — The Detroit Pistons desperately hope Cade Cunningham is the superstar they have been searching for in their long climb back to being a contender.

Detroit took the Oklahoma State star with the first pick and Cunningham looked into the history of No. 1 overall picks in the NBA draft, saying it was fun to do as he entered his rookie season.

The group includes many all-time greats such as LeBron James and some players who haven’t panned out, including Markelle Fultz, who has averaged about 10 points a game since being selected first in 2017.

Cunningham, though, is not motivated or discouraged about the disparate paths of players taken No. 1 overall.

“I’m writing my own story,” he said. “I’m not any of those guys.”

Coach Dwane Casey agreed.

“Cade won’t be a bust,” Casey said. “That’s one thing you can guarantee, but there will be growing pains. We have to be supportive. He’s going to have a target on his back each and every night. There’s going to be nights he scores seven. There’s going to be nights he scores 25.”

The 6-foot-8 guard, who turned 20 last month, gets a chance to lead a promising young team right from the jump when Detroit hosts Chicago in the season opener Oct. 20.

His teammates include 27-year-old forward Jerami Grant, who averaged a team-high 22.3 points last season, and and a pair of 2021 All-Rookie selections, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart.

Cunningham and Co. will have a quest to turn around a franchise that has won just 20 games each of the previous two years and hasn’t had a winning record the past five seasons.

“That’s not going to cut it anywhere whether you’re rebooting, rebuilding, or in our case, restoring,” general manager Troy Weaver said. “We want to win more games than we lose.”