When you’re trying to make an NBA roster after a vagabond start to your professional career, a memorable and explosive performance in your first outing for a team is a pretty good plan for success. It also seems to be the plan that former Oregon State star and current Washington Wizards guard Jared Cunningham enacted on Saturday, when he went for 26 points in just 19 minutes of action, in an 83-81 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the team’s first game of the 2017 Las Vegas NBA Summer League.
Cunningham’s prolific display can be mostly attributed to a strong day from the free-throw stripe, where the 26-year old connected on ten of his eleven attempts. The 6’ 4” guard also shot a solid 7-12 from the field, which included a 2-3 mark from behind the arc. Despite some limited minutes, Cunningham looked every bit of the projected player that the Cleveland Cavaliers used a first-round pick on back in 2014.
While Cunningham would seem to have a likely shot to make the team’s roster with a few more strong outings, only one look at Bullets Forever, SB Nation’s Washington Wizards site, will show that Washington may not be the team that best fits the former Beaver’s services. The Wizards, who are still in the midst of a roster overhaul at the moment, are currently nearing the last few hours of the Otto Porter Jr. contract situation, while also dealing with the loss of renounced free agent Bojan Bogdanovic to the Indiana Pacers. Their interest level in an older (than most of the Summer League) player like Cunningham would likely be limited.
And for those wondering: Cunningham has too many years of NBA experience to qualify for a two-way contract, so ignore that thought.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) July 8, 2017
If Washington isn’t the team to take a chance on Cunningham, a superb showing over the next handful of games could help Oregon State alum not only make an NBA roster or garner an NBA camp invite, but also raise his international stock for the next stop in his career. Last season, Cunningham was an elite-level scorer for Jiangsu Monkey King of the Chinese CBA, where he averaged over 34 points per game. Cunningham hasn’t played in the NBA since March of 2016, when he signed a ten-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.
That same Milwaukee Bucks organization currently sports fellow Oregon State alum Gary Payton II on the roster for their stay in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League, who has his own stellar outing in first game as well. Payton II and the Bucks return to the hardwood before Washington, when they suit up against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, July 9th at 3 PM PT.
The next chance to see Cunningham in action will be on Monday, July 10th at 1:30 PM PT against the Miami Heat.