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Cade Cunningham injury update: Will Pistons rookie play tonight?

Rookies such as Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes have been shining bright on their respective teams, but the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft has yet to play in his first NBA regular-season game.

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham is still recovering from an ankle injury that he suffered during training camp. While it doesn’t appear to be a serious injury that would keep him out for an extended stretch, the team has not shared any sort of timeline or expectations regarding when he could return to action.

What is the status of Cunningham ahead of Detroit’s next game? Here are the latest updates on the 20-year-old.

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Will Cade Cunningham play tonight?

Cunningham is not listed on the Pistons’ official injury report ahead of Saturday night’s matchup with the Magic. That could be mean he is ready to make his NBA debut, though Detroit has not yet announced whether he will be part of the rotation.

Earlier this month, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver described Cunningham’s status as “day-to-day” and didn’t offer a specific return date. He anticipated the former Oklahoma State star could play after Detroit finished its three-game road trip (Oct. 23 vs. Bulls, Oct. 25 vs. Hawks, Oct. 28 vs. 76ers).

Pistons coach Dwane Casey told reporters Friday that the medical staff will ultimately determine whether Cunningham is ready to play. Casey added that Cunningham has regularly attended film sessions and meetings with the coaching staff to offer input on what he is seeing from the bench.

MORE: Evaluating how rookies have performed this season

Cade Cunningham’s NBA potential

The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy explained why he gave the Pistons a high grade (A-) after they selected Cunningham:

There’s a lot to love about Cunningham, including his 3-point shooting touch, which is rare in this class. There is his command of the court; he is not one of those passers who sees what isn’t there, like a Jason Kidd or Penny Hardaway, but Cunningham always sees the pass that’s available, even if it’s a difficult angle or a player on the opposite side of the court.


What should matter most to the Pistons, hopefully, is that Cunningham is a winner. He was outstanding at the FIBA U-19 World Cup in 2019. He battled through a hotly contested Big 12 regular season and got Oklahoma State to its conference tournament title game. In a draft with no obvious superstar but lots of quality prospects, it makes great sense to draft someone who has both promise and a proven track record as a competitor. 

Cunningham showed off his skill set in three NBA Summer League games, averaging 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from 3-point range on high volume.

Magic vs. Pistons injury report

(Current as of 9:30 a.m. ET Saturday)

Team Player Status Reason
Pistons Jerami Grant Probable Right oblique; contusion
Pistons Isaiah Livers Out Right foot; injury recovery
Pistons Chris Smith Out G League — two-way
Magic Michael Carter-Williams Out Left ankle; injury recovery
Magic Markelle Fultz Out Left knee; injury recovery
Magic Jonathan Isaac Out Left knee; injury recovery
Magic E’Twaun Moore Out Left knee; sprain
Magic Chuma Okeke Probable Right hip; bone bruise

Pistons schedule 2021-22

(All times Eastern)

Date Opponent Time / Result
Oct. 20 vs. Bulls L, 94-88
Oct. 23 at Bulls L, 97-82
Oct. 25 at Hawks L, 122-104
Oct. 28 at 76ers L, 110-102
Oct. 30 vs. Magic 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 at Nets 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 vs. Bucks 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 vs. 76ers 7 p.m.
Nov. 5 vs. Nets 7 p.m.
Nov. 10 at Rockets 7:30 p.m.

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