Houston Rockets: Why Cade Cunningham isn’t a lock at no. 1 in NBA Draft

N.B. Lindberg
Cade Cunningham #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Cade Cunningham #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets, NBA Draft
Cade Cunningham #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets fell one pick short of the ultimate prize at the NBA’s draft lottery. With Rockets’ great and 1984 number one overall pick Hakeem Olajuwon representing the franchise at the lottery there seemed like an air of inevitability that Houston would secure its sixth number one overall pick in franchise history.

Unfortunately, even the greatness of Hakeem Olajuwon sometimes comes up short and the Rockets had to settle for the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. In a draft as stacked as this one, the second pick is by no means a disappointment but it likely means the Rockets will miss out on the opportunity to select Cade Cunningham.

Houston Rockets: Cade Cunningham has emerged as the no. 1 prospect in the NBA Draft

Almost every NBA draft big board has Cade Cunningham as the best prospect in this draft. His combination of size, playmaking, and shot-making ability is perfect for the modern NBA’s spread pick and roll attack. He flashes the ability to be elite as an offensive initiator and off-ball as a catch-and-shoot assassin.

Related Story. Ranking the top-five 2021 NBA draft prospects

What makes Cunningham the number one prospect is his incredibly high floor. From what he has shown, the worst outcome for his career is as a more creative passing Tobias Harris. Harris has been maligned for his bloated contract, but he very nearly had a 50/40/90 season.

Cunningham has earned the distinction of the number one prospect, but the difference between him, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Green, the next two best prospects, has become overstated. While Cunningham’s high floor makes him a safe bet, Mobley and Green’s higher upside open up the floor for debate at the top of the NBA draft.

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