When the Pistons travel to face the Rockets on Wednesday, November 10 on ESPN, we’ll see two future Superstars go head-to-head for the first time when top overall pick Cade Cunningham takes on No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green.
This will be the first time either player has competed under the spotlight of national television in the NBA regular season, but they have had many battles in their storied past as two elite prospects.
NBA League Pass: Sign up to unlock games outside the live market (7-day free trial)Cunningham and Green’s story began long before the 2021 NBA Draft, as the two were always side by side in the high school rankings for the Class of 2020. In fact, depending on which ranking you choose , you could have found any of them. at the top of his class at the end of his recruiting stages.
ESPN Top 100 had Green No. 1 and Cunningham No. 2, while Sports 24/7 and Rivals.com made Cunningham finish No. 1 over Green at No. 2.According to the Recruitment Services Consensus Index, which “combines the rankings of renowned recruiting experts,” Cunningham finished at No. 1, with the third overall pick, Evan Mobley, sneaking in at No. 2 and Green landing at No. 3.All this to say: The Cunningham versus Green debate has been building for years before their first NBA showdown.Each future star chose to pursue different paths, with Cunningham heading to the NCAA at Oklahoma State and Green becoming the key player for the NBA’s G League Ignite development program. The options clearly benefited both players, who ended up being numbers 1 and 2 a year later.Cunningham showed off his full and NBA-ready skill set as he earned Big 12 Player of the Year honors as a freshman. Green displayed his prolific scoring ability by averaging nearly 18 points per game against other professional basketball players, crowned for his best performance when it mattered most, scoring a career-high 30 points with seven assists in the only playoff game. by Ignite.Before the 2021 NBA Draft, both players made it clear that they felt they deserved to be the first pick.
Cunningham refused to coach for any team other than the Pistons in the pre-draft process, confident in his ability to become No. 1. And he did.Green only did two workouts, one with the Pistons and one with the Rockets, while firmly stating that he was the best player in the draft class.”Me. I’m the best prospect in this draft, in my opinion,” Green told ESPN’s Mike Schmitz. during your pre-draft YouTube movie session. “I didn’t go to college and play grown men. I think as a 19-year-old doing that, I’m the best player in the draft for sure.”Green doubled that after a strong showing in his Summer League debut in August.”Yeah, obviously I somehow feel like I was No. 2 and I feel like I should have been No. 1,” he said. according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.Green outscored Cunningham in their only battle in the Summer League, with the No. 2 pick going 25 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and the No. 1 pick going 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting. of the field.PLUS: Kevin Durant embraces the battle with No. 1 pick CunninghamNeither player has gone smoothly to the next level of the way we think going into their rookie season, but there are still less than 10 games left in their careers. In Cunningham’s case, he’s coming back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss the start of the season.
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With that said, both players have displayed flashes of potential that help explain why they were so hyped as professional prospects.Green has had a few moments, including his lethal step back:In addition to this electrifying dunk:Cunningham has only had four chances to show his game to its fullest, but knocking Matisse Thybulle off the dribble and finishing through Joel Embiid’s contact is a glimpse of the player we’ll see once he has his legs under him.At just 19 and 20 years old, respectively, there’s plenty of time for this duo to take off and become the All-Stars they were projected to be.For now, we’ll have to settle for seeing how they stack up against each other in their first meeting.