The Los Angeles Lakers still have plenty of decisions to make surrounding the 2021 NBA Draft, mainly their plans for the No. 22 overall pick and how to put the best talent around LeBron James. However, the top of the draft is equally intriguing. There have been plenty of rumors based on the Detroit Pistons potentially trading the No. 1 overall pick, but in all likelihood, they will wind up taking Cade Cunningham.
Cunningham is not the type of slam dunk No. 1 overall pick the way Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis or James were in their respective drafts. However, Cunningham remains a very talented and exciting prospect nonetheless. He’ll be 20 years old when the 2021-22 season starts up, meaning he’s likely been an NBA fan since shortly after 2001.
Because of this, he essentially got to witness the entire career of James and his rise to superstardom in the 2000s. This made it easy when he was asked who he was most excited to play against in the NBA, via Malika Andrews of ESPN:
“I’d say LeBron James. Just because, I mean he’s got a Space Jam movie now, so that’s Space Jam. LeBron is somebody I’ve been watching growing up, a lot of inspiration for me. He’s been to the Finals pretty much every year I can remember. So to be on the court with him, that’s going to be special for sure. Definitely a good scale to see where I’m at.”
Cunningham is probably like most of the prospects entering the NBA during this year’s draft. Given the average age of a draft pick, most of these players have witnessed James’ entire career and have seen his greatness over the past 18 seasons.
From 2012-2017, a very popular answer to this question for incoming prospects was Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, as that was the player they grew up watching. However, it has shifted to James over the last few seasons.
When the 2021-22 schedule is released, Cunningham will undoubtedly be looking for his first matchup against James and the Lakers regardless of what team he winds up with on Thursday night.
Buddy Hield trade promising
All indications point to the Lakers being heavily involved in adding Buddy Hield to their roster on draft night. It’s unclear exactly how this is going to happen or what a deal might look like, but any combination of Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the No. 22 overall pick could be included.
Of course, like all NBA deals, something could very easily fall apart in the negotiations.
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