Cade Cunningham will miss the remainder of the NBA season after it was revealed on Monday the Detroit Pistons' franchise cornerstone will undergo surgery on his bothersome left shin.
According to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Cunningham has been dealing with pain in his shin since the preseason, with the injury keeping him out of action since November 9.
The plan was to give him a month off to see if the rest would address the issue, but its persistence required further action, leading to the decision to send the former first overall pick in the 2021 draft under the knife.
He is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the start of the 2023-24 campaign, when the Pistons will look to begin their ascent out of the NBA's cellar.
It has been a lean few years in the win column for Detroit, landing the top pick in the 2021 draft after finishing dead last in the Eastern Conference with a record of 20-52 in the shortened 2020-21 season, before following it with a 23-59 campaign, ultimately resulting in Jaden Ivey's arrival with the fifth pick this year.
They are on track for another top-five pick in next year's draft as they own the worst record in the league at 7-22 – but it is a year where the front office will be happy to continue losing.
The light at the end of the tunnel is 18-year-old French super-prospect Victor Wembanyama, who will assuredly be selected by whichever team is fortunate enough to win the draft lottery and the top pick in the draft.
Standing at 7ft 4in with an 8ft wingspan – longer than any player currently in the league – Wembanyama is plying his trade in the French LNB Pro A, which is France's top men's league.
He is leading the league in scoring (23.6 points per game), rebounding (9.4), and blocks (2.8), while hitting 1.4 three-pointers per game, including high-difficulty attempts off the bounce, and even off one leg.
Cunningham and Wembanyama is a pairing that would have the Pistons on an express path to contention, and it will be no surprise to see Detroit trade away veterans with any value – such as Bojan Bogdanovic, whom The Athletic is reporting as a target for the Los Angeles Lakers – to lose as many games as possible.