On Tuesday night, basketball fans were given the matchup of the Summer League, as top-overall pick Cade Cunningham and the Detroit Pistons squared off against Houston Rockets second-pick Jalen Green. The two players will likely be compared for the entirety of their respective careers. in large part due to their draft position, which we tend to see all the time.
Whether it's comparing Hakeem Olajuwon to Michael Jordan or Greg Oden to Kevin Durant, this has become the norm across the NBA. And with Jalen Green making it known that he wanted to be the top pick, this head-to-head matchup has all of the makings of a true rivalry.
Granted, Green has every right to feel that way, not only because he was rated number one in his class by ESPN just one year ago, in a class that included Cunningham. In addition, many believe that Green would have been the top overall pick if he had gone to college like Cunningham, while others ranked the physicality of the G-League over what Cunningham saw from collegiate athletes.
The matchup was as advertised, as Cunningham and Green both led their teams in scoring, with Cunningham scoring 20 points and Green scoring 25 points. Green bested Cunningham in several categories, as he had 5 rebounds compared to Cunningham's 4, had 3 assists compared to Cunningham's 2, and went 10-of-11 from the free throw line, while Cunningham didn't get to the charity stripe at all.
But perhaps the most important thing is that Green's team walked away victorious, as the Rockets won 111-91, posting a 2021 Summer League high in points. But in spite of Green outplaying Cunningham, the instant narratives were flying immediately after the game.