Cade Cunningham, a 19-year-old guard who played at Oklahoma State University last season, was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the first pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals a game in college after helping spark a US victory in the 2019 Under-19 Basketball World Cup.
“It’s still crazy. Words can’t really explain the emotions,” Cunningham said. “I’m ready to see what I can do at the next level.”
Cunningham going to the “Motor City” sets up a perfect nickname — Motor Cade — for a Pistons team that went 20-52 last season and won the NBA Draft Lottery on June 22 to claim the top pick.
The Houston Rockets, who had the NBA’s worst record at 17-55 last season, chose second and picked 19-year-old shooting guard Jalen Green from the Ignite prospects team of the G-League, the NBA’s top development circuit.
Green was the highest pick to skip the US college scene, following the path of LaMelo Ball, who was taken third overall last year after opting to play in Australia.
Green averaged 17.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game last season for Ignite.
The Cleveland Cavaliers used the third overall selection on Evan Mobley, a 7-foot power forward who averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game at the University of Southern California last season.
Toronto selected Florida State forward Scottie Barnes fourth and Orlando took guard Jalen Suggs fifth overall.
Aussie Giddey to OKC
Australian guard Josh Giddey, 18, went sixth overall to Oklahoma City. The son of two Aussie pro players, Giddey averaged 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.6 assists a game for Adelaide of the Australian National Basketball League last season.
“Really excited to be drafted by OKC,” Giddey said. “I can’t wait to get into town and get to work with the guys. I think we can build something really special there and I can’t wait to be involved with them.”
Jonathan Kuminga, an 18-year-old forward from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was taken seventh overall by Golden State.
Kuminga, who left Africa at age 13 for the United States, wants to be an example to African youth dreaming of an NBA career.
“It means a lot to the African kids that I’ve been able to do all the things I’m able to do,” he said.
German 19-year-old forward Franz Wagner from the University of Michigan went eighth to Orlando, where he will be a teammate of older brother Mo.
“He just told me to enjoy every moment and have fun with it,” Franz younger Wagner said.
Canadian guard Joshua Primo, an 18-year-old who played at the University of Alabama, was picked 12th overall by San Antonio while Canadian-born Dominincan guard Chris Duarte went 13th to Indiana.
Turkish 19-year-old center Alperen Sengun, the 2020-21 Turkish League Most Valuable Player, went 16th overall to the Thunder, who also took Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis with the 34th pick.
Sengun’s rights were later traded by Oklahoma City to Houston.
Kai Jones, a 20-year-old Bahamas big man who played Texas, went 19th overall to New York and thought of older youth in his Caribbean homeland as inspiration.
“I feel like I have to make the most out of it because they are living through me,” Jones said.
Spanish forward Usman Garuba, a 19-year-old Olympian, went 23rd overall to Houston and Spanish 20-year-old center Santi Uldama,was taken with the 30th and final pick of the first round by the Utah Jazz.
In the second and final round, Boston used the 45th pick on 18-year-old, Guadeloupe-born guard Juhann Begarin, who plays for Paris Basketball.
Serbian center Filip Petrusev was taken 50th by the Philadelphia 76ers, who also took Nigerian center Charles Bassey 53rd.
Georgian center Sandro Mamukelashvili went 54th to Indiana while Serbian center Balsa Koprivica went 57th to Charlotte and Greek center Georgios Kalaitzakis went to Indiana with the 60th and final selection.