2013-14 Roster Review

Roster Review: Dante Cunningham

Let’s get some things out of the way. We all know that the Wolves’ bench was terrible this season. There are a number of reasons for this: J.J. Barea running the show; injuries to Chase Budinger, Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf; the lack of second-unit wing scorers and three-point shooters. And while all of these things forced him into a more prominent offensive role than one might deem advisable, none of these things are specifically Dante Cunningham’s fault. He is an undersized four with incredible hops, a great motor and an occasionally accurate midrange jumper. It’s unwise to expect much more than that.

But still, in the season’s first three months, when the Wolves lost all of those close games and their bench was particularly awful and they could have really used some production from anybody at all, Dante Cunningham was terrible. In the first 31 games of the season, he hit just 42.9% of his 177 field goals, the great majority of them wide open jumpers and none of them threes. In that time he attempted just 10 free throws. That’s low efficiency offense right there.

Even his vaunted defensive energy was inconsistent this season. When Pekovic and Turiaf were hurt and before Gorgui Dieng discovered himself, the Wolves really needed Cunningham in defensive freakout mode. Much of the time, it didn’t happen.

And all of this before Cunningham allegedly did some terrible things:

The woman, who is not named in the complaint, told police he kicked down a locked bedroom door, grabbed her around the neck and slammed her against the wall, choking her for 15 to 20 seconds during which she could not breathe.

“Victim’s eyes were watering and she felt like she was being strangled to death,” the complaint alleges.

Nice. Just a few days after being released from jail, Cunningham violated his restraining order by allegedly texting “terroristic threats” (that is to say, a threat to “directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another”) to that same woman. I say “allegedly” there, but police actually confiscated his phone and reviewed the offending messages. There’s not a whole lot of reason to doubt the charge. It’s also worth noting that Cunningham has made no effort to deny any of it.

At the very least, Cunningham is guilty of some egregiously poor decision-making–not to mention being a massive, aggro jerk–of a kind that makes discussing his value to the Wolves’ bench seem crass and irrelevant. I’m sorry I had to do that. The reality is likely much, much worse. Given the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the Wolves had no option but to play Cunningham his usual minutes over the final games of the season, blithe and gross though it may have seemed. But now Cunningham is a free agent; the Wolves have the luxury of letting him fade away without a sound.

Share this because Rubio would pass this along:
Tagged , , ,

2 thoughts on “Roster Review: Dante Cunningham

  1. I can see why the Wolves kept Cunningham over Tolliver due to thinking the offense would be there with other players (and the Wolves needing defense) but I still wanted Tolliver. He hustles a bit more than Cunningham imo and would have helped this last season for sure. Oh well…hopefully the Wolves can find a scrappy forward via trade/free agency this offseason.

  2. It’s kinda strange how the Cunningham-Ellington trade worked out: they brought in a bunch of guards in 2013, supposedly making Ellington expendable, yet doing so basically ended Derrick Williams’ time here because Cunningham was better and led to Tolliver leaving (a guy who provided a 3 point threat) because they didn’t need 4 PFs. They also ran out of wing players two seasons ago and were horrible from 3 the last 2 seasons. Guess which two guys shot over 40% from 3 last season? Neither of them are regular rotation players, but their fit might have been better than Cunningham and Shved (or Malcolm Lee). Cunningham is a better player than Ellington, but it’s questionable whether the trade made the team better.

Leave a Reply