Oklahoma State basketball: Breaking down Cade Cunningham’s chances to win 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year

Former Oklahoma State basketball standout Cade Cunningham is turning plenty of heads during his rookie season in the NBA and is one of the favorites to win the league’s 2022 Rookie of the Year award.

The Detroit Pistons rookie connected on 6-of-9 three-pointers en route to scoring an NBA career-high 34 points last week. In the Pistons’ 110-105 loss to the Nuggets, Cunningham finished with a near-historic stat line for a rookie: 34 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four blocks, and two steals. He is the only player to ever record these minimum stats in one game.

In the past 50 years, only one other NBA player has matched that stat line in terms of points, rebounds, and assists in a single game: Michael Jordan.

In addition, Cunningham logged his sixth game with five or more made three-pointers, the most of any player in league history in his first 38 games. He’s the only NBA rookie to record multiple games with a 25/5/5 stat line this season.

Overall this season, Cunningham is averaging 16.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. His scoring average is the most of any rookie this year, and his assist mark is second among rookies to the Thunder’s Josh Giddey. His steals average is second among all rookies to the Pelicans’ Herbert Jones.

The main competition for Rookie of the Year honors figures to come from four other players: Cleveland’s Evan Mobley, Toronto’s Scottie Barnes, Houston’s Jalen Green, and Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey.

Mobley averages 15.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game for a Cavaliers squad that has surprised a lot of people, holding down the No. 4 seed overall in the East right now with a 30-20 win-loss record after years of struggles. The first-year player from USC is shooting 51 percent from the floor and also averages 1.7 blocks per game.

Barnes, a 6-foot-7 forward from Florida State, averages 14.7 points and 7.7 assists per game for a Raptors squad that is currently just over .500 (24-23) and at the No. 8 seed in the East.

Giddey sneaks in as an honorable mention because of his full stat line and leading all NBA’s rookies in assists. The Thunder is struggling overall, though, which may hurt his chances to win the Rookie of the Year award.

The Big 12 hasn’t seen a player win the NBA Rookie of the Year since 2015, when the T-Wolves’ Andrew Wiggins won a year after playing at Kansas. Edmond native and former OU sooner Blake Griffin won the award in 2011 while with the Clippers.

All in all, it appears that Mobley has the inside track to win the award given that he leads all rookies in rebounds and plays for a successful team. The oddsmakers agree, listing Mobley as the current favorite in front of Cunningham and Barnes.

With more nights like Cunningham had against Denver last week, however, the former Oklahoma State star could still make himself a candidate with more than two months left in the regular season.