Sports

Could the Rockets Wind Up with Cade Cunningham?

Cade Cunningham should be the first pick in the draft, but by which team?
Cade Cunningham should be the first pick in the draft, but by which team? Photo by Eleven Warriors
The month before the NBA Draft is rife with rumors about teams moving up or moving down, players rising and falling on draft boards. This year is certainly no different except that here in Houston we have a team drafting high enough and with enough needs to justify discussion.

The Rockets wound up second in the draft lottery and it was widely assumed that Cade Cunningham, the all-world point forward from Oklahoma State, would be drafted first by Detroit. It is still generally considered a foregone conclusion Cunningham will go first in the draft, but it is no longer a sure thing he will land in Detroit.

Rumors have been flying that Detroit is considering moving down one or two spots to take Evan Mobley, the USC center some believe to be the best player in this draft and certainly its best big man. If that is the case, Detroit might want to parlay their spot into additional picks if a team like the Rockets, which has a pair of additional picks in this first round and more over the next several seasons, would be willing to deal. And it has been reported that the Rockets have asked what it might take to move up a spot to land Cunningham.

While stock has been steadily rising for Jalen Green, the 19-year-old swing man who played last season in the G League, the temptation for Cunningham, who offers an incredibly unique set of skills at 6-8, might be worth the move, depending on what exactly Detroit wants in return.

The Rockets aren't the only teams who are interested in Cunningham. Oklahoma City, Toronto, Cleveland and others are sniffing around that No. 1 pick. Given how infrequently the top pick has been moved before a draft, it still seems unlikely.

In some regards, the Rockets are in a good spot at No. 2. There is no question they are going to get a guy they believe they can build around and there is little pressure on them to make a deal. The Motor City remains appropriately in the driver's seat, but if the deal is right, Cunningham could end up in Houston despite not landing the first pick in the draft lottery.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke