NBA

Cade Cunningham 'won't be a bust – you can guarantee that', say Pistons

By Sports Desk September 28, 2021

Cade Cunningham might experience "growing pains" but will not "be a bust", insists Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey.

The Pistons selected Cunningham out of Oklahoma State with the first overall pick in this year's draft.

Much is expected of the 20-year-old as he seeks to lift Detroit, who finished bottom of the East last season having been in the playoffs as recently as 2019.

Cunningham scored 20.1 points per game in college last year and should offer help to Jerami Grant on offense.

After Grant's 22.3 points in 2020-21, Derrick Rose (14.2) was the team's next-best scorer, and he left for the New York Knicks after 15 games.

It meant the Pistons had the fourth-worst offense in the NBA (106.6 points per game).

Cunningham, who had 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks, is a two-way talent, but the need is less pressing on the defensive end of the floor, where Detroit ranked 10th in giving up 111.1 points.

The focus will certainly be on his scoring, yet Casey is happy to stay patient with the team's young new star.

"One thing I know: Cade won't be a bust. He's not. That's one thing, you can guarantee that," Casey said. "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, and it's something that [we], his team-mates, the coaching staff, the whole organisation [have] to make sure we support him.

"There's going to be some nights he scores seven and there's going to be some nights he scores 25."

Reflecting on his status as a number one pick, Cunningham said he was "just writing my own story" and added: "This is a different pressure than I've ever faced before, I guess, but I don't really look at it as pressure.

"It's more an opportunity to show people something than to think about all the bad things that can happen."

He echoed Casey's sentiments, however, as he said: "I know it's the NBA and nothing is given to you.

"You have to be humble coming in and just take it for what it is, just try to work your way up. I feel like if you can be consistent every day and just work hard, the good things will come.

"I'm not really going to press, trying to force the issue too early. I want to make sure everything is smooth with the squad and be patient."

Related items

  • T20 World Cup: Warner returns to form and Zampa stars as Australia beat Sri Lanka T20 World Cup: Warner returns to form and Zampa stars as Australia beat Sri Lanka

    David Warner returned to form with a blistering half-century after Adam Zampa put Sri Lanka in a spin as Australia cruised to a seven-wicket T20 World Cup win.

    Warner's place in the side had been called into question due to a lack of runs, but the opener silenced his critics a day after his 35th birthday as Australia made it two wins out two in the Super 12 stage.

    Sri Lanka posted 154-6 after Aaron Finch won the toss and opted to field at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, Kusal Perera and Charith Asalanka making 35 apiece before Bhanuka Rajapaksa added an unbeaten 33.

    Spinner Zampa flummoxed the Sri Lanka batters, taking 2-12 from his four overs, while Mitchell Starc (2-27) and Pat Cummins (2-34) also did damage.

    Josh Hazlewood played a big part with the ball once again without reward and Australia made light work of chasing down their target.

    Warner was dropped on 18 but made 65 from 42 balls, and he and captain Finch (37 from 23) laid the platform with an explosive opening stand of 70 from only 6.5 overs.

    Wanindu Hasaranga took 2-22, but Australia eased to their target with three overs to spare to join leaders England on four points in Group 1, Steve Smith making 28 not out and Marcus Stoinis unbeaten on 16.

     

    Zampa bamboozles Sri Lanka after promising start

    Sri Lanka were going along nicely at 53-1 at the end of the powerplay, but they lost their way after the excellent Zampa had Asalanka caught on the sweep by Smith.

    The guile of Zampa also saw the back of Avishka Fernando after Starc cleaned up Kusal with a searing yorker, as Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 16 runs.

    Rajapaksa added some much-needed late runs, with Stoinis expensive, but Australia were left with a smaller chase than they might have been expecting.

     

    Warner grateful for late Kusal gift

    Warner had been dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League and came into this game having scored only 17 runs in his previous five innings.

    His frustrating spell would have continued if Kusal had not put down a simple catch behind the stumps and the powerful left-hander made him pay, hitting 10 fours to set his side well on their way to victory.

    Finch was also due some runs and looked in ominous touch – bad news for Australia's rivals – as he cleared the rope twice before playing on to Hasaranga.

  • Lukaku 'completed himself as a striker' under Conte after Man Utd misery Lukaku 'completed himself as a striker' under Conte after Man Utd misery

    Antonio Conte drew the best out of Romelu Lukaku at Inter after showing him support that felt lacking at Manchester United, the striker's agent has claimed.

    As Conte emerges as a possible candidate to become the next United manager, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continue to struggle, his credentials as a coach who helps players to achieve their potential have been underlined by remarks from Lukaku's representative Federico Pastorello.

    When Lukaku joined Inter from United in August 2019, it was on the back of a disappointing second year at Old Trafford in which he scored 15 goals in 45 games – 32 were starts – at a rate of one every 201 minutes.

    That was the fewest goals he had managed in a full season since establishing himself in the Premier League during a loan spell at West Brom in 2012-13. Lukaku was owned by Chelsea during his time with the Baggies. He saw little action for the Blues first time around, but his Premier League career has come full circle this year after he returned to Stamford Bridge following two prolific years with Inter in Italy.

    Four strong seasons at Everton were followed by a 27-goal first campaign with United, before the team's fortunes nosedived in the final months of Jose Mourinho's tenure, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking over midway through the 2018-19 campaign.

    His goals under Mourinho in that season came at one every 273 minutes, improving to one every 151 minutes once Solskjaer took the reins for the Red Devils.

    But Pastorello said Lukaku still needed the assurance he was central to a manager's plans, and he found that at San Siro under Conte, a former Chelsea boss who wanted to sign the striker during his stint in west London.

    "Two years of work with Mr Conte helped him. He can score left, right, head. He has completed himself as a striker working with Mr Conte. He also had the opportunity to improve himself personally," Pastorello told Sky Sports News.

    "He felt wanted. This is what he was not able to feel at Man United. That happens."

     

    Across two years in Italy, Lukaku hit 64 goals in 95 games, at one every 121 minutes. He bettered his expected goals tally of 57.73 and created 133 chances, having carved out just 82 in 96 games for United.

    According to Pastorello, Thomas Tuchel showed a compelling desire to make Lukaku a prize asset at Chelsea, making "a fantastic speech" that convinced the Belgian striker a second spell at Stamford Bridge was the right switch.

    "He gave him the feeling that he really wanted him, that he was the perfect last piece in the puzzle," Pastorello said, recalling Tuchel's words to Lukaku before the reported £97.5million transfer. "It's very crucial for a player to decide to go in a team with a coach that really wants him."

    After making a fast start at Chelsea, with four goals in his first four games across all competitions, Lukaku finds himself on a seven-goal barren run, with Tuchel saying the striker is mentally fatigued. He is also currently injured, with no clear indication yet of when he might return.

    Despite the brouhaha surrounding his early impressive performances, Lukaku's goals in this spell for Chelsea have now come at an average of one every 208 minutes, albeit these are just the early stages of the campaign. The fact Chelsea sit top of the Premier League has eased the pressure on Lukaku to hit another scoring streak.

    "Rom's brain and his mind is very focused with Chelsea," Pastorello said. "He will rest a little bit, but he'll be back with more will to win trophies."

    Lukaku has missed Chelsea's last two games due to a minor injury sustained in last week's Champions League win over Malmo.

  • Koeman sacked by Barcelona: Pedri 'will always be grateful' to Dutchman Koeman sacked by Barcelona: Pedri 'will always be grateful' to Dutchman

    Pedri has thanked Ronald Koeman for giving him his breakthrough at Camp Nou and says he "will always be grateful" to the former Barcelona head coach.

    Barca confirmed the departure of Koeman on Wednesday shortly after a 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano that leaves them ninth in LaLiga with 10 games played.

    The Dutchman lasted just 14 months in the job after replacing Quique Setien in August 2020, during which time he won just 58.21 per cent of his 67 games in charge. 

    Koeman had more success when it came to nurturing young players into the first-team fold, though, with Ronald Araujo, Oscar Mingueza and Pedri breaking through last season.

    And with Barca's financial issues well-documented, Koeman made further use of the academy this term by giving Alejandro Balde, Gavi, Nico Gonzalez and Yusuf Demir chances.

    None of those players have had as big an impact as Pedri, who made the fourth-most appearances under Koeman (56 games), despite this season's injury issues.

    Pedri's form last season saw him rewarded with a call-up to the Spain squad ahead of Euro 2020, where he started all six of his country's matches in their run to the semi-finals.

    After a memorable 12 months for club and country, the 18-year-old has personally thanked Koeman for giving him a chance to shine.

    "I'm sorry things didn't turn out the way we wanted, mister," he posted on his personal Instagram account on Thursday. 

    "I will always be grateful to him for everything he has done for me: for giving me his trust from the first moment and for the opportunity to fulfil my dream at Barcelona.

    "I wish you the best both personally and professionally."

     

    Sergio Busquets was the most used played during Koeman's tenure, featuring 63 times in total – one more than Frenkie de Jong – with 56 of those being starts.

    The experienced midfielder also paid tribute to his departing boss on social media on Thursday, posting: "Thanks for everything, mister. Good luck in the future."

    Koeman's win percentage is the lowest of all coaches to have taken charge of Barca since Pep Guardiola left in 2012, the next lowest being Setien (64 per cent).

    The 58-year-old is also the only Barca boss to average fewer than two points per game in LaLiga (1.96 PPG), again comfortably behind the next worst in Setien (2.21 PPG).

    Barca announced on Thursday that Sergi Barjuan will take interim charge while a permanent successor for Koeman – expected to be club great Xavi – is found.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.