After the biggest draft night in recent NBA history, one might have expected the new draftees to go right to their team and get as much work as possible in their first season. But many rookies, including Luka Doncic, have taken the summer off and decided to spend their time overseas. The Mavericks were expecting their draft pick to come to Dallas almost immediately, and Cade Cunningham was one of the first players to take a break from summer league. In an interview for the Hook’s podcast, Cade discussed the decision to go overseas and what he’s been up to this summer.
Cade Cunningham is no longer comparing himself to Luka Doncic. Cade Cunningham at Summer League! pic.twitter.com/RXOi2rYg0L — Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) August 2, 2018
Comparing a current NBA player to an NBA prospect is something people do all the time. In some cases, potential customers have to do this themselves. Until recently, aspirant Cade Cunningham compared himself to Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic. As the draft approaches and Cunningham is about to become an NBA player, he doesn’t like that comparison.
Cade Cunningham and Luka Doncic have a lot in common
(L-R) Cade Cunningham, Luka Doncic ; Photo Jamie Squire/Getty Images ; Photo Maddie Meyer/Getty Images The first and most obvious reason to compare Cunningham and Doncic is the size and skill level of the two players. Cunningham is 5’8″ and weighs 100 pounds and Doncic is 5’7″ and weighs 100 pounds. In terms of skill, both are modern day Magic Johnson’s and can fill any column on the stats list as Lakers legends. Doncic is averaging 25.7 points, 7.7 assists and 8.4 rebounds per game in the NBA. Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 3.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds in his only season with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Like Doncic, Cunningham excels with the ball in his hands. In Doncic’s first season with the Mavs, his usage rate was 30.0%. By 2020-21, that number will rise to 36.0% in the league. In his season at Oklahoma State, Cunningham had a 29.1 percent conversion rate, which is close to that of the younger Doncic and would put him in the top 25 in the NBA if he achieved that rate in the pros.
Now that Cunningham is coming into the NBA, he doesn’t want to compare himself to his peers
During an episode of thepodcast The Old Man & The Three, host and NBA player J.J. Redick asked the young star why he compares himself to Redick’s teammates with the Mavericks. In the beginning, I compared myself to Luka a lot because I think our body types are the most similar in terms of how I will look in the NBA, Cunningham told Reddick. And his role – he’s the chief distributor of bullets. We can play with him. He also explained why he no longer likes this comparison: It’s funny because Luca and I are so close in age and I’ve never been a talker: Yeah, that’s the guy I look like. Now I feel like it turned out to be what I wanted, because I’m going to be playing Luca soon. Even after saying he was no longer a fan of comparisons to Doncic, Cunningham couldn’t resist making another one. He also said another skill they have in common is three-point shooting.
Cunningham is the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft
Comparisons to Luka Doncic are obviously unfair – the Mavericks star is a generational player, an MVP-caliber player at 21, but the fiber of Cade Cunningham’s game is similar. The first big board in this season’s NBA draft ➡️ https://t.co/bgz0o7qXuS pic.twitter.com/BzRQgMacQd – Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 24, 2020 Cunningham will headline the 2021 NBA Draft with five or maybe six top players. In addition to the Oklahoma State star, there are UCLA center Evan Mobley, Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs and two prospects who spent their high school years in G League Ignite : Guard Jalen Green and forward Jonathan Kuminga. Florida State recruit Scottie Barnes is the sixth prospect some consider a front-runner. If anyone can beat Cunningham for the number one spot, it’s Mobley. Suggs and Green are in the same position as the expected #1, with Cunningham having more potential. Kuminga and Barnes are much rougher prospects. Mobley is a 6-foot-2 center, and NBA teams have struggled in the past to select that type of player first. The Cleveland Cavaliers with Darius Garland and Collin Sexton and the Sacramento Kings with Tyrese Haliburton and De’Aaron Fox are two teams Mobley will likely consider if they win the lottery. With the exception of the two teams that have historically failed with high picks (Anthony Bennett, Marvin Bagley III), every other lottery team will likely take the next Luca Doncic, even if the original Cade Cunningham himself is no longer a matchup fan. All statistics are from Basketball Reference and Sports Reference CORRESPONDS TO: Will Luka Doncic be part of the Raptors’ reunion with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry in Dallas?
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