The Detroit Pistons are trying to determine whether former No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham needs surgery on his shin, according to Marc Stein. Cunningham has missed the Pistons’ last five games with what has been described as “shin soreness,” and there’s a fear that he may have a stress fracture, per Shams Charania.
Earlier this month, following his disastrous 1-of-11 shooting performance in the Pistons’ 128-112 loss to the Boston Celtics, the team announced that Cunningham was dealing with a shin injury and he would miss the next four games and be re-evaluated in a week. Though unfortunate, the issue did not seem serious when it was announced; that has now changed.
Regardless of whether he eventually needs surgery, Cunningham is out indefinitely and that’s bad news for a Pistons team that has struggled mightily this season. While many expected this young core to take a step forward, they instead have the worst record in the Eastern Conference at 3-14. Only the Houston Rockets at 3-13 have a worse winning percentage in the league.
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Injuries have played a big part in their rough start. Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Marvin Bagley III, Isaiah Stewart and first-round pick Jalen Duren have all missed time, and thus far just four players have appeared in all 17 games. Cunningham’s absence, though, is the most impactful.
Through 12 games, Cunningham has averaged 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and six assists per game, and has a strong chance to become just the eighth second-year player in league history to put up 20 points, six rebounds and six assists for a full season. Even with his inefficient shooting, his poise and playmaking were almost single-handedly keeping their offense afloat. With Cuningham on the floor this season, the Pistons score 111.2 points per 100 possessions, which is just about league average. When he’s been out, that number plummets to 102.4, which would be by far the worst mark in the league.
Following their loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, the Pistons have dropped six games in a row, which is the longest active losing streak in the league. And with Cunningham unlikely to return any time soon, that skid could be extended. Their next four games on this West Coast swing are against the Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns.
Given the latest prognosis on Cunningham, it may soon be time for the Pistons to turn their attention to the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.