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Cade Cunningham And Jalen Green Squared Off In A Rare Summer League Battle That Lived Up To The Hype

Las Vegas Summer League provides an avenue for basketball die-hards to indulge in wall-to-wall action from midday into the late evening for more than a week. For others, it’s an opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the NBA’s potential stars of the future. And on a few occasions during the week, single games can bring both, which was the case on Tuesday night during a matchup featuring No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham and the Detroit Pistons against No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green and the Houston Rockets. The Rockets ultimately picked up a 111-91 victory but, as always, the final score took a backseat to the work of exciting prospects.

Cunningham got the better of the matchup in the early going, as the Pistons were more intentional about getting him on the ball and Cunningham’s intensity and competitiveness rose to the surface. First, he flashed his three-point shooting with an early pull-up.

Then, Cunningham attacked the rim for an intriguing finish, only to follow that up (after creating a steal with his defensive range near mid-court) with a dish in transition.

Not to be outdone, Green settled in with his usual and varied shotmaking arsenal. That included a tough three-pointer to get things going.

Cunningham was able to create more effective opportunities, both as a jump shooter and as a penetrating option, and that was on display with a third quarter rim attack.

Green kept it coming with perimeter shooting and, not to be understated, the ability to draw fouls and convert 10 of his 11 attempts at the free throw line.

Perhaps the highlight of the night went to Cunningham, though, as he went one-on-one with Green and created a three-pointer with some flair.

Of course, Cunningham and Green weren’t the only intriguing prospects involved in this particular contest, and there were several reminders of that. 2021 first round pick Alperen Sengun impressed for the Rockets as an offensive focal point, using his craft to finish near the rim in multiple ways.

Sengun also stepped way beyond the arc for a deep three-pointer that turned some heads, and he finished the night with 21 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

Detroit received notable contributions from Saddiq Bey (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists), Saben Lee (13 points, two steals) and former college superstar Luka Garza (15 points in 16 minutes), but the other attention-grabbing effort came from Rockets guard Josh Christopher. He finished with 15 points and seven assists in 27 minutes, living up to his pre-college hype as a scorer and quickly becoming a crowd favorite with his attacking style on both ends.

All told, this was a matchup that lived up to the hype, both with the top two picks and their supporting counterparts. Cunningham wasn’t incredibly efficient, scoring 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting, but his two assists understate the effectiveness of his distribution — his teammates went 3-for-26 on threes for the evening — and he is already a very strong defender with three steals and quality activity. Green picked up where he left off after a fantastic opener with 25 points, five rebounds, and three assists, overcoming a considerable amount of defensive attention from Detroit and making sure his presence was felt.

This was still only a Summer League game in the end. Still, it answered the bell from an entertainment standpoint and several rising prospects were able to effectively showcase their appeal and future upside.

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