Analyzing Cade Cunningham, Davion Mitchell, and Jared Butler
March 12th, 2021
By Alan Lu
Today, I decided to take the time to watch Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State take on a very tough, Baylor squad in the semifinals of the 2021 Big 12 Tournament. It was a hard-fought game that went back and forth, and for most of the way, it was a defensive battle. In the second half, Cade Cunningham was able to turn it on to play very well, and he shot the ball really well and made solid plays on both ends of the floor down the stretch to help his team get a hard-earned win over Baylor. Here are my thoughts on how Cunningham and the others played today, as well where they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.
Cade Cunningham had a strong showing in his team’s stunning, comeback win over Baylor. He led the comeback charge by making a slew of strong plays down the stretch, and he finished the game with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists, as he also made 4 three-pointers to help his team get the victory. Cunningham did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball. He showed a knack for pulling up to knock down threes from beyond the arc, and he was able to make a couple of smooth, step-back threes effortlessly. He can make long-distance shots from way out, and he was able to run off the ball to make a deep three late in this match. Plus, he also showed a penchant for making pull-up jumpers from the mid-range as well. He also showed a solid ability to score in the post. He would tend to draw fouls upon his defenders to often get to the free throw line, and he used a crafty pump fake move to do so once.
Also, he excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Cunningham was able to go coast to coast off of a steal to score on an aggressive drive in transition. He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble. He excelled more as a jump shooter in this game, but he would tend to miss on tough floaters when he would look to go all the way to the basket, and he also had a couple of his shots blocked at times.
He also showcased solid playmaking skills. Cunningham tended to throw crisp, accurate interior passes, and he can find teammates on the move to set up scores for them due to possessing very good court vision. He can make an assortment of passes off the dribble, and he also was able to throw a sharp kick-out pass to find a corner shooter to notch another assist. He did commit a few turnovers, as he was called for pushing off on a drive, and he also threw an inaccurate pass that was dropped out of bounds another time, but he generally excelled as a facilitator in this game. Also, Cunningham did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He excelled at leaping up to haul in defensive boards to help his team on the glass.
He also played satisfactory defense in this game. Cunningham was able to jump a pass to get a steal. He also applied heavy ball pressure to an opponent in the post, and he indirectly forced a ball-handling turnover later on. He also excelled at contesting threes to force misses. On the downside, sometimes he would struggle to defend quicker players off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Another time, he allowed a bigger player to get deep position in the post, and he didn’t show enough resistance, which led him to allow his man to score around the basket.
In general, Cade Cunningham played a very good, all-around game to lead his team to get a well deserved, comeback win over Baylor. He is playing tremendous basketball right now, and he currently looks to be the frontrunner to be the top pick of the 2021 draft. He has been a consistently reliable player this season, and he is a smart, versatile playmaker that could end up being a multi-All-Star in the NBA.
Davion Mitchell had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Oklahoma State. He showed off a wide array of skills, and even though he didn’t shoot the ball well overall, he passed the ball and defended well, and he was able to get a series of strong scores on drives to the basket. Mitchell showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble. He has a quick first step the hoop, and he has good speed, strength, and finishing ability to score on strong layups at the rim. He would tend to favor going to his left, but he also was able to switch directions and go to his right to score once. However, sometimes he would struggle to score when he wouldn’t get foul calls, which led to a couple of misses. He also was able to score on a drive in transition, and he also pulled up to make a mid-range jumper. Though he moved off the ball to make a quick three, Mitchell struggled to make threes consistently from beyond the arc.
He also displayed decent playmaking skills in this game. Mitchell tended to throw solid interior passes, and he was able to throw an accurate lob pass to set up a score for a teammate once. He also can drive and kick balls out to shooters. However, he threw a hasty, rushed inaccurate pass that led to an over and back violation. He also had a ball poked away that led him to commit another turnover. Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Mitchell was able to get a defensive board on one possession.
Plus, Mitchell played very good defense in this game. He was able to poke balls away from opposing ball handlers to get steals, and he would actively contest threes and shots off of drives to force misses. He also was able to deflect a pass and poke a ball away to nearly get other steals. He also managed to successfully take a charge when defending a drive another time. On one play though, he sagged too far off of a shooter, which led him to allow his man to score on a three-point basket.
In summary, Davion Mitchell played fairly well in his team’s loss to Oklahoma State. He seemed to play significantly better than what the box score statistics would indicate, as he was able to get some timely baskets down the stretch to help his team stay in the contest, he threw an accurate lob pass to get an assist, and he also played suffocating defense to really hound the opposition. He is having a terrific junior season for Baylor this year, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round range on draft day.
Jared Butler had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Oklahoma State. He was able to score 16 points, but he struggled with his outside shot, and he also was quite turnover prone in this game. Butler showed a fairly good ability to score off the dribble. He excelled at scoring on a couple of switch of hands layup, and he showed solid speed, hang time, and body control to do so. He tended to favor going to his right to score, and he also used a spin move to score on a layup once. He also was able to pull up to make a crafty floater from the mid-range. On the other hand, Butler struggled to consistently knock down mid-range jumpers, and he also missed on a rushed layup on a drive in transition once. Though he did make a deep three from way out, he often had trouble making three-point shots in this game.
Also, he was quite turnover prone on offense. For the positives, Butler can throw good passes off the dribble, as he would drive in and throw crisp drop-off passes to his teammates due to possessing good court vision. He also was able to quickly drive and kick a ball to a corner shooter another time. However, he tended to commit ball-handling turnovers. He would tend to over-dribble in traffic, as he would lose the ball when pressured a couple of times, and he also ended up stepping out of bounds on other occasions due to carelessness.
He also was able to get several defensive boards to help his team on the glass. Defensively, he looked to be fairly average at best. Butler was able to rotate to double in the post quickly, as he helped force a traveling turnover early on. On the other hand, he would sometimes have trouble defending opponents off the dribble, as he would fail to cut off penetration, which would lead him to commit fouls. Another time, he got beat off the dribble, which led his teammate to rotate to foul an opponent on a drive afterwards.
Overall, this was not Jared Butler’s best game, and he generally struggled in his team’s loss to Oklahoma State. He turned in a disappointing showing, but it was one bad game that he had, as he still has been having a very good junior season so far. In general, he is an agile, skilled playmaker that has a solid set of all-around skills, as he would still likely project to go in the mid to late first round range in the 2021 draft.
MaCio Teague also put forth an uneven performance in his team’s loss to Oklahoma State. He did score 17 points and made 3 threes, but he also hoisted up 17 shots in this game, as he did not make shots very efficiently when he was on the court. Teague showed a fairly good ability to knock down jumpers, and he especially excelled at making threes from beyond the arc. He was able to make three-pointers off the catch and dribble. He also was able to make a quick turnaround mid-range jumper from the baseline, and he also scored on a floater off the dribble later on. However, he had trouble consistently scoring on floaters, and he had some trouble finding his rhythm in this game. He also did an adequate job of scoring on hustle plays. Teague was able to run in to score on a tip-in after grabbing an offensive rebound, but he also missed on a put back another time.
He didn’t look to pass the ball very much, but Teague was able to find an open shooter to notch an assist once. He also did not turn the ball over once on offense in this game against Oklahoma State. Also, Teague did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he looked to be about average. He was able to force a tie-up on a drive to get a steal. He also contested a drive in transition to get a stop another time. On the downside, he tended to pick up quick fouls. Another time, he fell asleep on a cut, and a teammate rotated to commit a foul and allowed the score at the same time.
Overall, MaCio Teague had his ups and downs, but he did not play very well in his team’s loss to Oklahoma State. Still, he is an agile combo guard that can score the basketball, and he currently projects to be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft.
Baylor’s 6-5 redshirt senior forward, Mark Vital grabbed 15 rebounds, and he was able to score on put backs and in the post, but he struggled to make shots efficiently, as he had several of his shots blocked. He also sometimes struggled to defend in one-on-one situations, but he also was able to tie up an opposing ball handler to force a jump ball to nearly get a steal once. He is an athletic, high motor big man that will need to improve his outside shot and ball handling, but he could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA if he makes it there one day.
Oklahoma State’s sophomore big man, Kalib Boone generally excelled as an interior player in this game, as he scored 10 points, and he had 6 blocks, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in his team’s win over Oklahoma State. He was able to score on a turnaround, fadeaway jump hook, and he showed a knack for drawing free throws when posting up. He also would’ve scored on a breathtaking, windmill dunk on the break late in this game, but his teammate had drawn a foul earlier, so it didn’t count.
Boone was able to find a cutter to notch an assist to show his passing skills. He also did a tremendous job of blocking shots, as he would swat shots out on the perimeter as well as in the paint to get a series of stops for his team. Overall, he is an athletic, high-motor big man that could project to be an energetic defensive specialist in the NBA.
Oklahoma State’s freshman guard, Rondel Walker excelled at making shots, as he did a good job of scoring on hustle plays, and he also made a corner three. He was able to use a eurostep move to score on the break, and he also ran the floor to score on a powerful, two-handed dunk. Also, he was able to score on a backdoor cut while getting an extra free throw another time. He also defended well. Walker was able to block a shot in the paint to help his team defensively. Overall, Walker is a very athletic combo guard that made solid hustle plays on both ends of the floor. He will need to be more assertive on offense in games, but he could be a prospect to watch in the future.
Oklahoma State’s sophomore guard, Avery Anderson III also played fairly well in his team’s win over Baylor. He showed off versatile scoring skills, as he is a speedy guard that generally excelled at scoring on aggressive drives to the basket. He also made a step back, long two, and he also made a corner three to show his shooting skills. He didn’t look to pass very often, but he tended to throw inaccurate passes that would sail out of bounds. He played fairly good defense. He was able to jump on a loose ball to get a steal, and he also deflected a pass to nearly get another. On the other hand, he got beat off the dribble, and then fouled his opponent to allow a score and an extra free throw.
Overall, he is an agile combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, but he will need to improve his playmaking skills. He will need to show that he can effectively run the point, but he could project to be a borderline second round candidate whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.
Baylor’s 6-9 junior forward, Matthew Mayer didn’t play very much, but he was able to make some solid plays in limited minutes in this game. He was able to make a quick, open three-point shot to show his shooting range, but he missed on two other threes from well beyond the arc. He also missed on a turnaround, contested mid-range jumper. He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Mayer also scored on a floater off of a backdoor cut.
Also, he displayed satisfactory playmaking skills. Mayer is an unselfish player that will get his teammates the ball, and he was able to drive and dish it to a teammate around the basket to notch an assist. On the other hand, he also threw a weak pass that got intercepted another time. He also defended fairly well, and he was able to jump on loose balls to get steals.
Overall, Mayer is an athletic, skilled swingman that has versatile scoring skills, and he also plays with a solid motor when he is on the court. He will need to play more in games, but he could be a prospect to keep tabs on, and if things break his way, he could be a potential second round pick in 2022.
Oklahoma State’s junior guard, Isaac Likekele did not play very well in his team’s win over Baylor. He did score on a quick put back after grabbing an offensive rebound, but he generally struggled to score off the dribble and in the post, and he also had a couple of his shots blocked.
As a playmaker, he looked to be fairly average. For the positives, Likekele is an unselfish player that will get his teammates the basketball. He was only able to get one assist in this game, and he also threw an inaccurate pass that skipped out of bounds.
He did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He also played adequate defense. Likekele was able to poke a couple of balls away to get steals, and he also intercepted a pass to get another. He has active hands defensively, and he did a good job of forcing turnovers. However, he struggled to defend quicker opponents out on the perimeter, and he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.
Overall, Likekele did not shoot the ball very well, and he did not get as many assists as hoped. He still was an active defender that was able to get steals, and he also rebounded the ball well. He will need to improve his jump shot moving forward, but his size, athleticism, and defensive skills could make him worthy of being on the second round radar for the upcoming draft.