Cade Cunningham only Detroit Pistons player named among NBA's top 25 under age 25

Determining who is the "Next Big Thing" for various sports leagues has been all the rage this week.

Fresh on the heels of Pro Football Focus' top 25 players under the age of 25 list, which featured five Detroit Lions players and Penei Sewell at No. 1, The Ringer did the same exercise for the NBA, ranking the 25 best players in the Association under 25.

Unsurprisingly, the Detroit Pistons were not viewed as fondly as the Lions in their sport's respective rankings coming off the worst season in franchise history. One of the lone bright spots of the team, Cade Cunningham, represented the Pistons at No. 14. The rest of the Pistons' self-promoted young core, including Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart, were — to no surprise — absent from the ranking.

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The Ringer said the criteria panelists used to determine the list included current performance, projected future performance, a "gets the people going" factor for "charisma and marketability," intangibles and foundational qualities as a franchise player.

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham looks to pass against the Grizzlies during the second half of the Pistons' 116-102 loss on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, at Little Caesars Arena.
Pistons guard Cade Cunningham looks to pass against the Grizzlies during the second half of the Pistons' 116-102 loss on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, at Little Caesars Arena.

Cunningham, the former No. 1 overall pick in 2021, checked in just ahead of Trae Young and Evan Mobley (tied at 15th), Brandon Miller at 17th and former Michigan standout Franz Wagner at No. 18. Cunningham trails Scottie Barnes (13), Alperen Sengun (12) and Ja Morant and Zion Williamson (tied 10th).

Contributing panelist J. Kyle Mann said Cunningham, 22, has shown he can be an offensive hub despite playing on such a bad team, but still has questions about his ceiling because of turnover and finishing issues.

"...The Pistons have put together one of the worst rebuilds in recent memory, so you could easily argue that he’ll be better when a sensible roster is constructed around him," Mann wrote. "Cunningham carried an absurd burden—the fourth-most pick-and-rolls per game in the NBA, with a 33.1 percent usage — on a roster that lacks additional creators and was tied for fewest made 3s per game in the entire league."

The Pistons will try to infuse more young talent into the roster with the fifth pick in the 2024 NBA draft at the end of June. It was the third straight year the Pistons have slid to No. 5 in the draft lottery, and this list is littered with players they've missed out on in the past. Three of the four players drafted before Ivey are on the list, including two making the top 10 (Keegan Murray, drafted fourth, was also left off). The top two picks of the 2023 draft are included over Thompson, led by the No. 1 overall player listed, Victor Wembanyama.

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Here is the complete top 10 from The Ringer:

T-10. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

T-10. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

9. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

8. Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder

7. Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

6. Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers

5. Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers

4. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

1. Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Cade Cunningham only Detroit Piston on top 25 under 25 NBA list