Cade Cunningham on what he needs to do to draw more calls: ‘Maybe I need to kiss someone’s a-s’

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham had an honest response about the lack of calls he’s gotten from officials in recent games — and perhaps in general.

Cunningham scored 26 points in the Pistons’ loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday night, but he did not attempt a single free throw. It was the second straight game that Cunningham did not get to the line.

He voiced his frustration after the game when asked about scoring 56 points in his last two games without attempting a single free throw.

“There’s a lot of things I want to say but I want to keep my money,” he said to The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III. “I take pride in being a good basketball player. I don’t take pride in the fact that I can’t get to the line. I’m trying to get there. I’m watching the stuff, trying to learn from it. I have to stop b——- and crying. I feel like that’s making them not want to look out for me more. I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I need to be nicer. Maybe I need to kiss someone’s a–. I don’t know what it is. I’m working on it. I’m trying to get it.”

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Cunningham has been one of the few bright spots for the Pistons this season.

However, it appears that the young guard is growing frustrated with the lack of calls he’s receiving, and he doesn’t seem to know what it will take for him to start getting to the line more.

On Feb. 22 against the Indiana Pacers, Cunningham attempted 21 shots, scoring 30 points without the benefit of a free throw. He followed that up with a 20-shot game in the team’s recent loss to Orlando.

A bigger guard, Cunningham has not gotten the benefit of the doubt when attacking the basket this season, as he is averaging just 4.3 attempts per game from the charity stripe.

Not only that, but Cunningham has attempted 10 or more free throws in a game just five times in 46 appearances this season. The former top pick has had eight games where he has not attempted a single free throw.

Despite that, Cunningham is still averaging 22.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game while shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from beyond the arc. He’s the No. 1 option for a rebuilding Detroit team that has just eight wins in the 2023-24 season.

Cunningham was very candid with his thoughts after the team’s loss to Orlando, and it’ll be interesting to see if anything changes for him in the Pistons’ matchup with the New York Knicks on Monday night.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.