Killian Hayes: The Underestimated Key to Detroit’s Future Success


You are expected to deliver when drafted in the top 10 of any draft. You can have one, or maybe even two years where you’re trying to figure it out. Beyond that, teams will begin to assess their options in terms of your fit with the team’s direction. Coming into the 2020 NBA draft, Killian Hayes was projected to be one of the first point guards taken in the draft due to his size (6’4” and 215 pounds), playmaking abilities, and willingness to play defense. His lack of a perimeter jump shot and a right hand could be overlooked because NBA players work tirelessly on the things they need to improve.

For Killian, his first three seasons haven’t been seasons I would want to write home about. In his rookie year, Hayes only played in 26 games. He averaged 6.8 PPG on 35% shooting and 28% shooting from three. In his sophomore year, Hayes averaged around the same points but shot better from the field, with a 38% field goal percentage. This past season, Hayes saw his first double-digit points per average at 10.3PPG. I started to see a guy who was starting to get it more as his playing time increased due to the injury of Cade Cunningham. The Pistons decided not to give Hayes a contract extension, ultimately letting him decide if he would be a part of this team’s future or not. From the four games played, I would say his days are numbered.

Is it time to panic?

Everybody in Detroit is ready to give up on Hayes, and rightfully so. The number of bad games outweighs the number of good games he’s had as a Piston. But I’m still not ready to give up on Hayes. Even to the point where I say he should be around as the Pistons transition from a rebuilding team to a consistent playoff team. In his three seasons in the NBA, Hayes averages 1.2 steals and is currently averaging 1.5 steals this season.

Why do you think Monty Williams has him in the starting lineup over Jaden Ivey? Yes, Ivey is showtime with his speed and offensive game, but he still lacks on the defensive end, even though he’s getting better. His shot, I believe, will get there. Remember when Lonzo Ball came into the league with a terrible shot? He continued to work on it until he became a pretty good shooter? Remember when Marcus Smart was drafted with the 6th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft and struggled out the gate with his shooting? How could he stay on that team when some people wanted him gone? Defense.

So yes, Killian may not be that 16-17 point game scorer you may want him to be, but I genuinely believe he still serves a purpose for developing this Pistons team. I look at a team’s success off of these things…

  1. Superstar(s)
  2. That one guy you would label as “the heart and soul:”
  3. Players who play their role

Hayes fit

Now, let’s look at the Pistons. Cade would be that team’s superstar, with Ivey coming into his own in a few years. Isaiah Stewart is “the heart and soul” of this Pistons team. He’s physical in his style of play, and he isn’t running from a confrontation. Of the guys who play their roles, Hayes is one of the best perimeter defenders on the team and one of the best playmakers. He has the pieces needed to be successful. Let him grow into the player he needs to be. I guarantee you, those calls for him to be traded or let go in the offseason will change. 

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