Like every tanking team this year, the mantra for the OKC Thunder throughout their recent 72-game regular season has been “Fade for Cade”, which suggests the desire to plummet their overall record to attain the No. 1 pick which, in turn, they’d go on to nab Oklahoma State standout, Cade Cunningham.
Viewed as an all-around top talent, the 19-year-old had an absolutely fantastic one-and-done campaign at the collegiate level, guiding the Cowboys to a 21-9 record on the year and, in turn, led the charge for them heading to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years.
Through 27 outings, Cunningham posted stellar per-game averages of 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.6 steals on 44 percent shooting from the floor and 40 percent shooting from deep. With his production, coupled with his impressive 6-8, 220-pound frame, the rookie prospect is viewed as a player who could thrive at the next level, especially if put in the right situation.
Though there are likely many teams that could see the guard gracefully succeed in the NBA, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report, the OKC Thunder should be viewed as the ‘best landing spot’ for Cunningham.
Citing their plethora of youth within the roster, coupled with the fact that they already have a budding star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in tow, Oklahoma City seems to be the ideal place for the incoming rookie to excel right from day one:
Cade Cunningham appears ready for a featured workload, and he’d get it in Oklahoma City for a franchise loaded with draft picks and young players.
Still, defenses couldn’t load up on Cunningham alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. They’d form one of the league’s bigger, most versatile backcourts, with Luguentz Dort playing the Marcus Smart-like role from either wing spot.
Throw in Aleksej Pokusevski, whose potential could make him one of the league’s most unique players, plus all the picks Oklahoma City has at its disposal for drafting or trading, and Oklahoma City should offer Cunningham an attractive mix of freedom, support and assets to rebuild.
Obviously, we at TI would be ecstatic if Cade Cunningham found himself drafted by the OKC Thunder, as we believe he’ll be an absolute star at the next level and could easily find himself starting right away.
Though they may only have the fourth-best odds to land the top pick, which is presumed to be him, with their treasure trove of assets at the ready, if Sam Presti finds himself falling out of the race for Cade by means of faulty ping pong balls, he could easily concoct a trade package that would have him come ahold of the draft rights to the uber-talented prospect.