Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham will undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left shin, a league source confirmed to the Free Press on Monday. Cunningham is expected to make a full recovery, but the procedure will end his season after 12 games.
Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick in 2021, entered his second season with high expectations, but the stress fracture caused him to miss 17 games. He last played against the Boston Celtics on Nov. 9 and looked limited during the 16-point loss, finishing with four points on 1-for-11 shooting, two assists and two turnovers in 24 minutes.
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The Pistons initially ruled Cunningham out for five games in mid-November to give the soreness in his shin a chance to subsidize. But the medical staff suspected a stress fracture was the cause of his soreness, which gave Cunningham a difficult decision to make: Treat it with rest or have surgery? Rest would’ve allowed him to potentially return sooner but was also less of a guarantee to fully heal the stress fracture. Cunningham ended up taking the lengthier route, which will prematurely end his season but hopefully — for him and the Pistons — solve his shin issues.
Cunningham ends his season averaging 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and six assists, shooting 41.5% overall and 27.9% on 5.1 3-point attempts per game (17-for-61). His absence paved a path for Killian Hayes to return to the starting lineup, and the third-year guard has responded by playing the best basketball of his career.
The Pistons (7-22) sit at the bottom of the NBA standings, with an eye on the 2023 draft lottery, which will be headlined by a generational prospect in 7-foot-4 center Victor Wembanyama.