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Cade Cunningham vs. Jalen Green: What did we learn from Summer League duel?

The NBA's top two 2021 draft picks for the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets squared off in an NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas.
Credit: AP
Houston Rockets' Jalen Green (0) drives to the basket under pressure from Detroit Pistons' Cade Cunningham (2) during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

LAS VEGAS — If it feels like we literally just saw Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green walk up on stage at the NBA Draft, it's because we did. 

Less than two weeks since being selected first and second overall, Cunningham and Green squared off in an NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas as the NBA gets back on its typical timetable for an October start following coronavirus-related schedule changes over the past year and a half.

Cunningham, drafted first overall by the Detroit Pistons, was 8-of-18 from the field for 20 points to lead Detroit. Green, drafted second overall by the Rockets was 6-for-11 with 25 points.

Locked On NBA Draft podcast host Rafael Barlowe, who attended the game in Las Vegas, said on Locked On Today he thought Green outplayed Cunningham.

"Jalen green had a quiet 25 if there's such thing," Barlowe said. "He did not get a bunch of shots up, only 11 shots. He got to the foul line 11 times and made 10 out of 11 free throws, but he was impressive. He shot the ball well, he's efficient. But what stood out to me the most and one of the questions coming into this rookie season was how well he can shoot the ball. An easy 3 for 5 deep, so the Rockets have to be smiling that they got Jalen Green to, in my opinion, outplay Cade Cunningham tonight."

Cunningham played well for Detroit also, scoring 20 points but also establishing himself as a vocal leader on the floor.

"What I thought was impressive was the defensive versatility that he's shown and the leadership that he's already showing," Locked On Today host Peter Bukowski said. "This was as much about the culture fit it seems like with Cade Cunningham and we're already seeing a lot of that. Basketball IQ, obviously a big part of it as well."

"He had a good game, solid performance. It felt like he probably should have had more assists," Barlowe said. "He only had two assists on the stat sheet, but I thought that he set up guys, he got them good looks they just weren't making the shots. He looks like the player that everyone expected and shot the ball well from three. I liked the defensive versatility, also felt like they should have put him in the mid-post a little bit more. I wanted to see that."

Ku Khalil of Locked On Pistons said on Wednesday's podcast he thought despite Green outscoring Cunningham in their Summer League battle, he thought Cunningham showed why he was selected ahead of Green.

"I feel like throughout the game you really got an idea of what it is that makes Cade Cunningham better than Jalen Green," Khahil said on Locked On Pistons. "Jalen Green is out there to score, he's looking to score. Cade Cunningham changes the game, he tries to make his teammates better, he can score but he also impacts the game in multiple different areas."

Pistons fans: Hear much more from Khahil on the Cunningham/Green matchup on the Locked On Pistons podcast, your daily podcast for all things Detroit Pistons. 

Rockets fans: For more on Jalen Green and all things Houston Rockets, subscribe to the Locked On Rockets podcast hosted by Jackson Gatlin.

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