WEIGHT: 220 lbs
HIGH SCHOOL: Montverde Academy (FL)
AAU: Texas Titans (EYBL)
COLLEGE: Oklahoma State
Versatile Three-Position Wing Defender with Offball Roaming Freedom
Primary Initiator with Three-Level Scoring
Two-Way-Wing with Two-Level Scoring
- Possibly one of the rare jumbo creator prospects. Combines size, length, handling and passing ability in a unique way to make him a playmaker at 6’8.
- Extremely coordinated athlete, who moves in a very graceful, nimble, and fluid manner. Possesses superb footwork that helps him to maneuver forced defensive collapses and the resulting tight spaces calmly and confidently at all times.
- Improved his body meaningfully since high school. Looks much stronger and more balanced. Still not a core-strength monster, but more refined at absorbing contact in traffic, which allows him to play a little more physical on both ends of the floor.
- Great first step and underrated quick leaper, even though he lacks in the raw power department. Nice end to end speed. Can stop on a dime and is able to use this ability in a variety of ways.
- Immensely gifted ball distributor. His vision, spatial awareness and basketball IQ are off the charts. Has the skills to converts these traits into easy buckets for his teammates. Can throw every pass imaginable. Very good in transition and in the PnR as the classic live-dribble playmaker. Interesting as a stationary or post-up/back-to-the-basket option as well. His height gives him favorable angles in all these play types. Checks all the advanced passing boxes regarding precision, velocity, creativity, timing, and patience.
- Smart all-round and fundamentally sound basket player with connector mindset. Thinks the game on an extremely high level. Looks for the right play rather than his own numbers. Happily plays the hockey assist, lines up as a big or acts as an off-ball wing, if the situation requires it.
- Effortless, tight, and very functional handle. Always gets to the places he wants to go with ease. Great at changing directions with his smooth behind-the-back actions. Handles ball pressure well. Avid user of body fakes to create leverage. Rarely stops the ball, dribbles the ball to death or uses show-off moves to set up his own defender.
- Great footwork as a driver. Ambidextrous finisher. Improved a lot in this area over the past two years with his body, strength, and mentality catching up.
- Has an effective post-up game based on good positioning instincts and quick, decisive moves that probably stem from his past as a big. Started transitioning to the playmaker position only about three years ago. Can use this facet especially in clear mismatch situations, backing down smaller players and finishing over them constantly.
- Leverages his good awareness into a lot of impact as a team defender. Especially from the nail area he is able to affect the game in multiple ways – using well-timed rotations to disrupt opponents’ plays by cutting of drivers, taking away gaps or simply stepping in for steals. Capable weak side shot blocker and timely in his close-outs.
- Provides coverage versatility due to his length and interesting switchability. Therefore, he should become a valuable defensive chess piece on the NBA level.
- Seems to be a positive character, who communicates on both ends of the floor very well. Constantly directs and encourages his teammates.
- At the moment he lacks some aggressiveness as a scorer. While he always wants to make his surrounding talent better, he sometimes fails to realize that him putting the basketball into the bucket actually might be his team’s best option more often than not. It is hard to fault Cunningham for this approach, because he usually strives for the best basketball play and should be praised for this mentality, he should be admired for this. Therefore, I do not criticize his general wiring as a player but am curious how his balancing and fine-tuning process will turn out over the season, as he has shown himself capable of taking over games in many ways.
- While the shot seems to be improving, a few questions regarding the consistency of his jumper remain. A reliable pullup wasn’t part of his HS game, will be much needed, though, to reach his ceiling as a player, as most NBA superstars heavily rely on this facet of the game. His start to the season was promising in this regard. Stopping ability, solid handle and his balance looked nice so far and should allow a lot of development in the right direction. Additionally, he showed some confidence as a spot-up option and from the free throw line. Still, volume and consistency of his jump shots should be monitored before declaring him an elite marksman.
- Engaged when challenged as an on-ball defender. However, overall not as effective as an off-ball roamer type. Active with his hands but has mixed stance behavior. Crosses his legs fairly often. Does get close to his opponents and looks alert. Yet, has problems to bother his matchup physically quite often due to a lack of strength and missing commitment to fully body up. A little foul-prone in these situations.
Cunningham is a deserving #1 prospect. His combination of size, ballhandling, vision, and passing leave no doubt that he will be able to act as a tall wing initiator/connector type at the bare minimum. Throwing in his great team defense and solid on-ball efforts, we are talking about a great two-way prospect as his floor to low medium outcome. However, projecting some physical development and buying the shot completely would even allow to project him as the most valuable archetype in basketball – a (possibly heliocentric) jumbo creator, who can carry a franchise to a title as the first option. To be able to write this about a prospect is so rare that the top pick label should be applied by default. Time will tell in which spheres we should talk about Cade comparing him to historical draftee competition.
AS OF: 12/7/2020