BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The NBA is back like it never left.
The NBA Draft begins Thursday night less than two weeks after the Milwaukee Bucks were crowned champions.
This year's draft class is heavy at the top, highlighted by Oklahoma State freshman guard Cade Cunningham.
Cunningham, a Texas native, scored 20.1 points per game in his only season with the Cowboys, propelling himself to the top of NBA Draft boards with his size and ability to make plays all over the court.
The Detroit Pistons won the NBA Draft Lottery, thus gaining the right to make the first overall pick on Thursday.
The Pistons finished with a 20-52 record last season, the second-worst in the NBA.
Despite Cunningham's near-consensus reputation as worthy of the first pick, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver hadn't tipped his hand as to what the team would decide before draft night.
“I said it from the onset: We’re going to have a process and we’re going to turn over every stone,” Weaver told NBA media last week.
“That’s what we’re doing. Everybody’s made the pick but us. But we’re going to continue to do our work, turn over every stone and land where we’re going to land. We’re confident in our work and we’re enjoying the process.”
Weaver is entering his second year in Detroit after his tenure in the Oklahoma City Thunder front office.
However, ESPN reported Thursday morning that the Pistons had decided on taking Cunningham with the first overall pick.
Detroit officials traveled to New York on Wednesday, met with Cunningham a final time and finalized the decision to choose him at No.1 in meetings this morning, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/aNdmZv5C9m
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 29, 2021
He'd be the first Cowboy to ever be taken with the first pick.
Cunningham isn't the only prize to be had at the top of the draft.
“I’ve been saying for a long time,” Cunningham says.
"We have one of the best classes in a long time. And I’m really appreciative of the fact that we’ve all been pushing each other throughout us coming through high school and things like that.”
USC center Evan Mobley, Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs and G-League star Jalen Green are all expected to be top-five picks on Thursday.
“I don’t see Shaq or LeBron but I see some high-level guys,” Weaver says.
Houston, Cleveland, Toronto, and Orlando round out the top-five teams picking in the draft, followed by the Thunder at No. 6.
The Thunder also has the right to picks 16 and 18 of the first round on Thursday.
The draft starts at 7 p.m. CST.
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