Central Notes: Cunningham, LeVert, Williams, Green

Cade Cunningham only scored two points in his NBA debut Saturday night, but he was happy to finally be on the court, writes Eric Woodyard of ESPN. A sprained ankle he suffered in training camp forced the overall No. 1 pick to miss the entire preseason and the Pistons‘ first four games.

“I think it was good. I feel like coming in, just being able to make some plays off the ball, get some rebounds. I felt like I was solid defensively,” he said. “And, I mean those are the points that I really wanted to come out and just prove to myself that my ankle was straight and that I could move, guard and do everything else. So, I got all the jitters out now and now I can just go play free.”

Because of lingering concerns about the ankle, Cunningham is beginning his NBA career under a restriction of 20 to 25 minutes per night. He played 18 minutes Saturday, recording seven rebounds and two assists while shooting just 1-of-8 from the field as Detroit picked up its first win of the season.

“I try to keep my energy in the right place,” Cunningham said. “I try to keep my head in the right place and so, my team, they know what they expect out of me, I know what I expect out of me, so that’s all that’s really mattering to me. People can say whatever they want, outside of that, but I probably won’t hear it.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Also making his season debut Saturday was Pacers swingman Caris LeVert, who suffered a stress fracture in his back during training camp, notes Akeem Glaspie of The Indianapolis Star. LeVert, who is dealing with a minutes restriction too, made an impact while he was on the court, scoring 15 points in 15 minutes. “The hope is that there wouldn’t be a long period where there’s a restriction but right now it’s just really hard to say, it’s really impossible to say,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Would’ve been great to have him in the second half but that just wasn’t in the cards.”
  • The Bulls will take steps not to lose an entire year of development for Patrick Williams, who will have surgery today to repair torn ligaments in his left wrist, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘He’s probably going to lose a significant amount of muscle mass in his upper body because he’s not going to be able to lift or do anything from that standpoint,” coach Billy Donovan said. ‘‘The more we can keep him engaged with our team (the better) because what happens is the season is going on, and these games are coming and coming and coming, and he can feel like he’s over here on an island.’’
  • Donovan tabbed Javonte Green to fill the open spot in the Bulls‘ starting lineup, just as he did when Williams had an ankle injury during the preseason, Cowley adds. Donovan explained that Green’s energy and versatility on defense make him a good fit with the team’s other starters.
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