Pistons: Is Cade Cunningham as clearly the No. 1 pick as it seems?

The Detroit Pistons are the big winners of the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA draft, and the future has never looked brighter for the once-proud franchise.

They hold all the power in this stacked draft with the ability to deal or use the pick themselves. At the top of the class, Cade Cunningham sits as the consensus No. 1 choice. It seems like the obvious decision for a 20-52 team to simply take the best player available, but should it be that simple?

The Detroit Pistons are the winner of the NBA draft’s first overall pick and the consensus No. 1 is Cade Cunningham. Is it that simple for the Pistons?

As is typical for NBA front offices possessing top picks, the Pistons haven’t revealed their ultimate plan. That doesn’t mean they haven’t decided, or that they are seeking suitors in the trade market for the pick, it simply means that it’s bad business to give out more information than you need to.

Let’s debunk a couple of the concerns that have arisen in the early post-lottery days.

Should we read into the Pistons interviewing players?

The Pistons are conducting interviews with lottery prospects other than Cunningham. Does this mean that maybe they have a trick up their sleeve and plan on deviating away from him when draft day arrives?

It does not. Remember, the Pistons started draft day in November, 2020, with just one pick in the first round. Before the dust had settled, they had made three consequential first-round picks, selecting Killian Hayes seventh, Isaiah Stewart 16th and Saddiq Bey 19th. General manager Troy Weaver and his front office aren’t going to leave any stone unturned in the draft, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them come away with another pick or two via trades (not trades of the first pick, mind you), and it should be no surprise that they’re doing their due diligence.

Is Killian Hayes a reason to not draft Cade Cunningham?

If the Pistons were in fact to draft Cunningham, they would be drafting point guards with their first selections in back-to-back drafts after selecting Killian Hayes seven months ago. Make no mistake, this is no deterrent from drafting Cunningham, who would probably immediately become the second-best player on the team behind Jerami Grant with a clear trajectory to become the best player on the team.

It’s important to note that adding Cunningham to the roster would not marginalize Hayes. The Pistons experimented with playing him off the ball late last season with some success, and this was likely an effort to see how he might perform without being the lead ball-handler. Obviously, the Pistons couldn’t allow themselves to dream that the lead ball-handler in question would ultimately be Cunningham, but sometimes things work out.

It’s also worth noting that Cunningham and Hayes would immediately team up as a killer defensive backcourt duo.

Does it matter if there are better fits?

The Pistons are ideally built to be able to fit talented players into their roster. With the exception of Jerami Grant, most of the players on this team have outlooks as excellent supporting role players, and there’s nobody so important that their spot in the 2020-21 rotation must be held firmly in place.

While Cunningham will function best as the point guard and lead ball-handler (moving Hayes off-ball), he could play the three as a lead wing as well, and the roster can simply fit around him rather than the other way around. In essence, the only way “fit” matters is how the players around Cunningham fit with him, not the other way around.