NBA Draft 2021

2021 NBA Draft: Cade Cunningham scouting report, strengths, weaknesses and player comparisons

By now, you have probably heard of Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham, projected by many as the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

The No. 2 ranked player in ESPN's Top 100 for the class of 2020, Cunningham more than lived up to the hype in his one and only season in the NCAA, averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game on efficient shooting splits of 43.8 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from 3-point land.

Measuring at 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, the 19-year-old has all the physical tools to make an immediate impact at the next level.

But what exactly would Cunningham bring to the franchise that selects him?

Strengths

Cunningham's size, weight and length has him built more like a forward, but his skill set has him ready to be a jumbo point guard at the NBA level.

As a true floor general who commands the pace of the game, Cunningham is fluid and polished in just about everything he does with the ball in his hands.

He's a pick-and-roll maestro as both a playmaker and shot creator, with superb awareness to read and take what the defence gives him. He's more than capable of passing out of double-teams and traps to set up open teammates...

...and when the defence doesn't apply enough pressure, he'll beat you by attacking the rim...

...or pulling up off the bounce at the 3-point line.

His passing is already advanced, making him a dynamic threat as a true three-level scorer.

He's a confident shooter off the dribble from both 3-point land and midrange, and he has already worked the patented step-back 3 we're so accustomed to seeing in the NBA into his offensive arsenal.

He's a bulldozer when driving to the basket with great body control to finish through and around contact. He's not afraid to use his size to his advantage and take smaller matchups into the post, and he's flashed some potential as both a scorer and passer in those situations as well.

On the defensive end, his 7-foot wingspan adds another layer to his versatility as a player who should be able to guard multiple positions in the league. He's a physical defender with active hands, whether it be filling passing lanes or timing shots for blocks.

Cunningham is as ready of a pro prospect as they come.

Weaknesses

As great as Cunningham is with the ball in his hands, with a usage rate of 29 percent, we didn't get to see him play without the ball in his hands much during his one collegiate season. He is certainly an offensive initiator, but depending on the situation he is selected into, it will be interesting to see what type of damage he can do off-ball as a catch-and-shoot shooter or cutter.

He changes speeds well as a ball handler, but he's not super shifty or explosive, often relying on his size to bully his way to the basket in the NCAA. Expanding his bag of tricks as a dribbler will only help make up for what he lacks in burst.

As a defender, he will have to get quicker to keep up with some of the faster guards in the league.

Projected NBA Draft Position: No. 1 pick

Projected NBA Role: Playmaking floor general, franchise cornerstone

Shades of: Luka Doncic, Jimmy Butler

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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