Pistons' Cade Cunningham suffers 'very mild' ankle injury at training camp
Detroit — It’s just an ankle injury, but the Pistons aren’t taking any chances.
Cade Cunningham, the Pistons’ No. 1 pick in the draft, sustained a mild ankle injury during training camp this week. Coach Dwane Casey said that it’s not a serious bruise, but that the team is being cautious with Cunningham ahead of next week's preseason opener.
“Health-wise, just like any other training camp, you're going to have nicks and bruises and turned ankles, but nothing is at all serious — zero,” Casey said Friday. “Cade has a turned ankle. It's very mild, but we're going to be cautious, just to make sure that he recovers before next week.”
Cunningham has been on the court doing light shooting drills this week during the portions that have been open to media. Casey said there is some swelling with Cunningham’s ankle — what Casey deemed a “typical turned ankle” — and Cunningham didn’t appear to have any outward difficulty during the shooting drills.
Cunningham played well during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and earned the All-Summer League second-team honors. He’s projected to be a starter when the preseason games begin on Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena against the San Antonio Spurs.
Casey said that Frank Jackson also sustained a mild ankle sprain, but it doesn’t seem to be serious either.
As Cunningham gets ready for his first NBA action besides Summer League, there has been some work with refining his shooting mechanics. Cunningham shot 40% on 3-pointers in his only season at Oklahoma State, so there’s no reason to tinker with it too much.
Former Michigan coach John Beilein, who is a player development coach with the Pistons, is looking to bring some of the heralded 3-point shooting that his teams have had. Beilein has been working with Cunningham on raising the release point on his shot.
“The only thing with Cade is getting his release up higher, which he does. You would think that he has trouble getting it off, but he's demonstrated that he does not do it perfectly every time, but he still gets it off,” Casey said. “He's one of those players that (his shot) doesn't look perfect, but it goes in. The one thing that John's been working with him on is just getting it up higher — that's about it, because everything else is perfect and he's got the size and length.”
Cunningham’s shooting in Summer League, including a breakout game with seven made 3-pointers, wasn’t a concern at all. But as the rookie gets ready to open the preseason, the coaches want to try to work on some small things that won’t mess with the rest of his shooting.
It’s not about fixing anything; rather, it’s about making simple changes that can have an immediate impact.
“The one thing when you do (work with the shot) is you don't want to break a guy's shot down this close to the season, just tearing it all the way down,” Casey said. “That's not tearing it all the way down — that's just a little adjustment, more so than anything else.
“I've had guys where you just bring it all the way down to how he puts the ball in his hand and all that — and it's not that at all.”
Laying the framework
With the preseason opener on the horizon, the Pistons continue to work on some of the fine nuances of their defensive schemes. It’s only the first of their four-game schedule, but trying to get everything perfected in the beginning isn’t the priority. It’s just getting the framework down and then improving as the preseason goes on.
Casey noted that the individual summer workouts are about improving on offense and the team things in the preseason are more about getting better defensively. It’s ramped up in the first week of training camp and with a few more practices, it’s getting close to a dress rehearsal.
“We've got our zone in and we're working on our zone but not completely yet, and I really don't feel comfortable yet. The last thing we're going to start getting into is our zone offense and our press offense, and that's coming along, but not completely there yet,” Casey said. “That's where you start getting nervous, but we still have some time. Even if you don't have it all in by the first exhibition game, you still have some time.”