In the first matchup between the top two picks in the 2021 NBA draft, Cade Cunningham’s Detroit Pistons edged Jalen Green’s Houston Rockets 112-104. Cunningham finished the game with 20 points, three assists and four rebounds while Green had 23 points, two assists and five boards. Detroit’s Jerami Grant led all scorers with 35 points.
The Rockets held a one-point lead going into halftime but the Pistons owned the second half. Detroit outscored Houston 63-54 in the final two quarters to take the win. Green may have had the most electric play of the night with a thunderous dunk as he drove past Cunningham, but the No. 2 pick got a technical after apparently getting too excited after.
Jalen Green dunks, lets 'em hear it and gets the technical for it pic.twitter.com/dDGsQ3CBjz— ESPN (@espn) November 11, 2021
Green is still ahead of Cunningham in Rookie of the Year odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Rockets guard is +400 to win the honor, while Cunningham is +450. Both players are chasing Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes, who have had stronger starts to the season. In DKNation’s preseason predictions, three members of the panel chose Green to win the honor while two others took Cunningham.
The Pistons rookie had some early struggles due to an injury, while Green’s shooting volume was likely leading to his inefficiencies. Both players were a little better in Wednesday’s game from the floor. Cunningham shot 8-18 from the floor, while Green went 8-20. We’ll see if the rookies can keep this up going forward and eventually overtake Mobley and Barnes in Rookie of the Year odds.