Houston Rockets: Cade Cunningham historical comp #3
Floor: Ron Harper
If your knowledge of Ron Harper is largely derived from The Last Dance, take a moment to tango with these highlights of him dropping 36 points on the Celtics as a Los Angeles Clipper in 1991. Ron Harper might have been a valuable role player for the dynastic Chicago Bulls but he was a star for the Clippers.
His best individual performance probably occurred during the 1989-90 season. The counting stats were impressive: 23 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He also produced a PER of 20.0, and a Box Plus/Minus of 4.7, an impressive mark considering that his Clippers finished the season with a 21-61 record. Durability was an issue, as Harper only managed 28 games on the season (in all likelihood, a major factor in the Clippers’ 61 loss season) but fortunately, that doesn’t factor into this Cunningham comparison.
Standing 6’6, Harper was similarly an oversized point guard who punished opposing defenses by exploiting his size advantage over most point guards. That reads a lot like an apt description of how Cunningham will be expected to thrive at the NBA level as well.
Of course, expectations for Cunningham will be significantly higher than a career resembling Ron Harper’s. Harper famously left the Clippers to join a winning franchise, adjusting his game from go-to offensive option to valuable role player. Cade will be expected to be too good to consider that route. Instead, the expectation will be that players will adjust their games to play with him.
Still, as far as floor comparisons go, Ron Harper is not as low as some may be inclined to think. If it wasn't for an ACL injury in 1990, when sports medicine was much more rudimentary, Harper might have be a household name.