After the Pistons won the lottery Tuesday night, GM Troy Weaver said the club will zero in on five players with the top pick in the draft. To which NBA Draft analyst and Detroit native Rashad Phillips might say, "Don't overthink this."
Phillips, like most experts out there, considers Cade Cunningham the "no-brainer" pick at No. 1.
"He reminds me a lot of Grant Hill," Phillips told the Stoney & Jansen Show Wednesday.
To which Weaver would later say, "Being from the DMV like Grant Hill, that’s pretty high cotton. If he can be close to Grant Hill, that’s pretty good. But yeah, there’s some similarities there."
So what is it about Cunningham, a 6'8 guard, that reminds Phillips of the 6'8 Hall of Fame forward?
"When you look at him on tape, his fluidity, his aura, his ability to make everyone around him better. He lifts his surroundings and he carries himself in a manner that we want a franchise player to," Phillips said. "This is a kid that you can build around. He doesn’t take up a lot of space in regard to his character, he doesn’t take a lot of shots. He just plays the game the right way. I just think this is the perfect pick."
Drafted third overall by the Pistons in 1994, Hill won Rookie of the Year and was an All-Star in five of his six seasons in Detroit over which time he averaged 21.6 and 7.9 rebounds. Perhaps a similar track awaits Cunningham, who averaged 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds in his lone season at Oklahoma State.
"For me, it just goes back to the flashbacks of Grant Hill," said Phillips. "Anytime you have a kid that’s compared to the likes of a Grant Hill, I just think it’s a no-brainer."
Weaver said Tuesday that Cunningham is "for sure at the top of the list" of the prospects the Pistons will focus on with the No. 1 pick. Asked Wednesday about Cunningham's best attributes, Weaver pointed on the floor to "his skillset and his versatility as a player."
"Off the floor, his leadership abilities. He brings a winning attitude. There’s a lot to like about what he brings to the table," Weaver said.
Phillips, who lives in Orlando, got to know Cunningham during his high school days at Montverde Academy in the Orlando area. He said Cunningham is equally impressive off the court as on it. That will matter to Weaver, whose strategy is to draft people over players.
"I was able to watch him in high school. He is a fantastic kid off the court," Phillips said. "Comes from a terrific family, well-spoken, highly intelligent. I’ve had him on my show doing some interviews with him, this is just a well-rounded kid. And when you look for draft picks, especially No. 1 draft picks, they gotta check all the boxes. Cade Cunningham checks all the boxes on the court and he checks all the boxes off the court."
As for how Cunningham might mesh with the Pistons' young core, Phillips loves the fit with All-Rookies Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart.
"I call Cade Cunningham a dual forward," he said. "His ability to handle the ball, initiate offense and play-make is perfect for the guys on the roster today. Saddiq Bey, a terrific small forward who can knock down shots. He reminds me a lot of Antione Walker when he was with the Celtics. Isaiah Stewart, a bruiser, a great rim roller and a really good enforcer. You put Cade Cunnningham in the mix of that, this is an exciting team. I really love where we’re going here."