The top two picks in the 2021 NBA Draft met in an actual regular season game for the first time on Wednesday night in a primetime slot on ESPN. Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green each had solid outings in the national spotlight, with the Pistons getting the win as Cunningham had 20 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
On the other side, Green had 23 points, five rebounds, and two assists for the Rockets, including a few highlight reel buckets as he was clearly fired up for the showdown. Green wasn’t shy after the draft in saying he felt he should’ve been the top pick and wanted to prove the Pistons got it wrong whenever Houston played Detroit going forward, and after getting past Cunningham for an emphatic dunk, he let the No. 1 pick know all about it.
oh shit. Jalen Green blows by Cade Cunningham and barks in his grill. pic.twitter.com/zZr2EiMLGI
— Frank Wobminsky (@WorldWideWob) November 11, 2021
Cunningham was his typical stoic self through the interaction, but after the game he offered a little spice in return when asked about the trash talk from Green and the Rockets, saying it was all for show and had nothing of substance.
Cade on player’s talking trash: “Nothing I heard tonight held any real weight. It was all for the cameras, I thought.”
— James Edwards III (@JLEdwardsIII) November 11, 2021
Getting the win certainly afforded Cade the high ground here to cast some shade on his fellow rookie and do so in a very collected, on-brand way. Hopefully these two can continue to grow and improve into the stars they certainly have the potential to be, because this kind of rivalry between two stars who clearly aren’t particularly buddy-buddy would be great for the league. Their last meeting this season is in a month, on December 18 in Detroit, where they’ll get to continue the conversation.