Fantasy Basketball

2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Cade Cunningham

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Usually, the first pick from a draft class always creates some buzz on the draft day. Cade Cunningham was not an exception this year as his 2021-22 Fantasy Basketball ADP was 74.5.

Now that his current rank is 131st, his owners probably regret paying a hefty price for him on the draft day.

He is not a complete bust or a scrub, but no one would deny that he’s been rather a disappointment than an excitement considering his lofty expectations early in the season. Is he just a 15-5-5 mediocre tweener?

Let’s break down his stats to see his prospects.

All data comes from NBA.com.

2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Cade Cunningham

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Cunninghams GmSc

He’s Been Improving…Just Not Enough

GmSc is a statistic created by Jared Hollinger to measure a player’s performance based on boxscore stats.

According to NBA.com:

A Game Score of 40 would indicate that the player had a fantastic game, while a Game Score of 10 would reflect an average performance by a player.

Cunningham has been quietly improving, but his performance level is still somewhat mediocre so far. Is he the next Anthony Bennett?

When you think of the top players, they all have go-to moves.

Sometimes you know Lebron James is about to penetrate, but you can’t guard him because he is just too good. Stephen Curry‘s trey is too quick to block, too. Unfortunately, Cade Cunningham hasn’t shown his own go-to move potentials like these superstars yet.

Cade The Lost Child Cunningham

His jump shot field goal percentage is disastrous. However, these are all three-point shots, so it is not as bad as it looks (still not good, though). As you can see, his game is currently based on a three-point shot, a pull-up jumper, and a rim attack. Sadly, none of them is deemed effective.

What Do We Make Of Him?

His highlight tells us what kind of player he is. He put up 29 points, 8 assists with 5 treys last night.

What’s noticeable is his wrist snap. He knows how to flick his wrist when you pass the ball, which is quite important for pass accuracy.

From this highlight, you can also see he swings the ball to the weak side. The reason why he is highly regarded and sometimes puts up big numbers is because of his court vision and high BQ.

The problem is these are not backed up by any skillsets such as shooting, penetration skill, or physical talent.

The majority of his assists is a kick-out pass. His field goals are either three-point shots or rim attacks derived from the screenplay. Thus, you can define him as an enthusiastic penetrator with mediocre three-point shooting skills.

To be an effective penetrator, you need to be physically talented or have a great sense. The best example of the former one is LeBron James, and of the latter, Luka Doncic.

Three-Point Shot Dependence

The main issue is shot creation. He’s not quick or strong enough to fake and get past the defenders. This is where his inconsistency comes from. A ramification of a lack of strength, speed, and shooting kills makes him heavily depend on quick treys with a screen.

The chart above shows his behind-the-arc performance related to GmSc. This trend should continue.

If he can make some three’s in a row, he can penetrate more often to create more chances to increase his stats. If his shots are not falling,  he would struggle to create shots due to a lack of physical dominance.

Reason For Optimism

However, it doesn’t mean he is a bust. He reminds me of Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Paul George.

From the games I have seen, I sensed that Cunningham’s moves are crafty. Luka Doncic is not super quick or strong to blow the defenders, either. Even though his passing skills and sense are not quite good as Luka’s, he could still improve significantly as he experiences.

I think Killian Hayes is a part of the reason Cunningham is not performing well. If he plays along with a better point guard to distract the defenders from him, he could score more.

He has also shown the improvement of teamwork with Saddiq Bey. His pass frequency to Bey increased by 7% over the last ten games. Cunningham’s pick & roll play with Saddiq Bey has created more chances.

It could be a breakthrough for him to step up as a penetrator, but his circumstance (especially teammates) has to be a lot better for him to meet our expectations.

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Conclusion

If he has some explosive games in a row, you could fleece a league member to snatch a good player. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t encourage you to trade him right away.

Having a forward whose average assist is over 5 per game is still valuable in any league.

I just don’t think it’s not worth expecting him to explode as Anthony Edwards did after the All-Star break last year. It’s all about your expectations.


Check out more Fantasy Basketball content from the F6P team.

About Yeon Lee

Yeon Lee finds a great pleasure in analyzing players with advanced statistics. His main focus for analysis is sustainability of a player's performance. He's willing to give an advice to anyone who is interested in advanced statistics. Feel free to tweet @sabermetrics201 anytime!

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