Killian Hayes’ Fit With the Detroit Pistons

“With the 7th pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Detroit Pistons select… Killian Hayes“. Upon hearing those words last Thursday, the French guard finally knew where he would be headed next. Hayes will be joining his friend Sekou Doumbouya in Detroit, where the Pistons are in full rebuild mode. We’ll take a look at the Pistons roster, what value Killian can add, and how he fits in Coach Dwane Casey’s philosophy.

Profile

Killian Hayes is a lefty guard with really good size, offensive skill and instincts, while also being a plus defender. He relies mainly on the pick and roll, but creates a lot off of that. Hayes reads the defense really well and has good court vision to either find the open teammate or finish the play himself. He isn’t really a creator at the moment, as his limited use of the right hand and lack of explosiveness don’t allow him to get rid of competent defenders, but he has been evolving in that regard and can attack mismatches and create separation with step backs and side steps for outside pull up shots.

Passing

Hayes is a good passer on the move, coming off the PnR to deliver the ball to the roller or kicking the ball out to the shooter. His vision allows him to read defenses, anticipate the help coming, and deliver the pass to the right spot without too much effort. He has many more problems doing this when using his right hand and won’t be nearly as effective. But with his left, Hayes is a great passer in any situation and will make defenses pay if they give him too much attention.

Shooting

His shot has been improving and he is now a really good pull-up weapon. Hayes has the ability to come off screens into his spots or to punish defenders who go under screens. He still needs work as a spot up shooter, bringing the ball too low on the catch and slowing down his release. The flashes of creation he shows include the step backs and side steps mentioned above, moves that set some guards apart in the NBA and something that he’s been trying to master.

Driving

Although he is not a realiable creator yet, he can and will get baskets for himself off his drible. The difficulties he has going right (which were minimized as the season progressed) don’t take away his ability to change speeds and the agility to turn his body and fool defenders. Killian has good ball-handling, uses crossovers, and body fakes to create space and either shoot or finish with good touch around the rim, especially on floaters.

Defense

Hayes is a competent defender. His size and length allow him to defend both positions of the backcourt, being able to contain drives and fight through screens. He has active hands and puts pressure on the ball handler. Quicker and more skilled guards will cause him trouble though, as his lateral quickness and footwork are a bit slow and not ideal. He’s a good team defender, with good help defense instincts. Hayes will come away with interceptions, playing the passing lanes and can make some athletic plays in transition.

Detroit Pistons

Depth

Position1st Option2nd Option3rd Option
PGDerrick RoseKillian HayesJaylen Hands
SGDelon WrightSvi MykhailiukDzanan Musa
SFJerami GrantSaddiq BeyDeividas Sirvydis
PFBlake GriffinSekou DoumbouyaJosh Jackson
CMason PlumleeIsaiah StewartJahlil Okafor

The Detroit Pistons roster is still very fluid. There’s no real certainty around the next moves that General Manager Troy Weaver will make, especially after the first night of free agency, where they essentially added size and strength to a team coached by someone who likes to play in transition and with space. It is probable that they decide to move both Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, although, as Pistons Talk told me, getting rid of Griffin’s contract will be pretty difficult. However, a Rose deal could mean more minutes for Killian Hayes, in a team with no real pressure to win.

Offense

Dwane Casey will begin his third year in Detroit; it’s his second year in rebuilding mode after reaching the playoffs in 2019. Casey has been having problems ifinding the success he had in Toronto so far. His teams usually play a fast-paced, spaced offense, using dribble hand-offs and high screens to free up their best ball-handlers or to force help and free their shooters. That’s what he did in Toronto with Lowry and DeRozan and that’s what he’ll try with Hayes.

The Pistons were in the top-3 in 3-point attempts from the corner and top-10 in efficiency last season, shooting 42% on corner threes. They were also average in transition, scoring 1.11 points per possession. They were pretty uneffective on ball handler scores off PnR, but fared well when it was the roll man finishing. Also, and this is important with Killian, the Pistons were dead-last in pull up attempts last season.

Casey is clearly trying to bring what he had in Toronto to Detroit, but still hasn’t had the players to do it. Hayes could be a step in a new direction. So we’ll look at what the Raptors did with Casey, using guys like Lowry, Cory Joseph, and DeRozan as examples.

Transition

Hayes likes to get out in transition and push the ball up the court and that is a staple of Casey’s offense. Two guys running quickly to the corner will give Killian two quick options to pass or open his path to the rim when the defense is not set. That was a problem in last year’s Pistons’ offense that he could help with.

Dribble Hand-Off

Another staple of Dwane Casey-led teams is the dribble hand-off. He likes to use it for a quick basket early in the shot clock or when their center is “stuck” at the elbow. Hayes is a good player coming off hand-offs and can score on all three levels, although he probably needs to gain more momentum going for the ball. As we can see, they usually use the DHO for the ball handler to come into the middle. Whereas Killian is used to going outside, into a less crowded spot. He can usually finish those plays with a floater/little push shot or, with the ability Killian already has to read the defense, delivering a pass to the corner.

DHO Into Double Screen

Casey is a coach that doesn’t like mid-range shots that much. But you have to adapt to the players you have and when he had DeRozan, the mid-range had to be there. This could be the case for Hayes also. When playing with another ball-handler, Killian can play off the ball, coming from a DHO, into a double screen to pull up or play iso. He is capable of that and Casey can get him going with that.

Swing and High PnR/DHO

I’m sure Casey already saw this play from Hayes and smiled. A ball swing from one side to the other into a pick and roll that Killian will execute to perfection. He has the ability to make this pass, especially going to the the left, anytime he wants. So that’s something I believe we will see a lot from the Pistons. It’s just beautiful basketball.

Spot Ups

There is a possibility that Hayes spends some time on the court with Blake Griffin, as it is not certain that he will be traded. Griffin likes to have the ball in the post and play from there and Casey will give him that. Hayes will need to be ready to step into shots with confidence and quickness. This is also true for when he plays with another ball handler, like Rose or Delon Wright. The video above is the example of what he can and should do on spot ups. No hesitation. Just stepping into his shot.

Defense

Casey was the mastermind behind the Dallas Mavericks defense in 2011 that lead them to a title. The use of the zone, mixed with man to man was a beautiful sight to see. In 2020, the Detroit Pistons finished 22nd in defensive rating. The gritty Pistons and the defensive mind of Casey are clearly yet to be connected. But the coach of the Pistons has already said that the defense will be the main focus this year, with the use of the zone as a weapon. Casey likes his teams to be aggressive on the perimeter, with active hands. Hayes can help with that. He will pressure ball handlers and is a great off the ball defender who will get steals and deflections. That, with some other additions, may help the Pistons to improve their defense significantly.

Overview

Killian Hayes is a great pick for the Detroit Pistons. A ball handler with amazing offensive potential who knows how to control the tempo of the game. Without the pressure of winning, Hayes can really grow. He fits the style Casey likes, even if there are differences. But Killian is capable of adapting, as is Casey.

Killian fits like a glove in an early-offense, spaced, sped-up kind of attack, with movement, lots of screens and hand-offs. The spacing will probably be far from perfect this season, with Detroit’s many frontcourt additions. But going forward, he will thrive in it. His passing, driving, court vision, and scoring are good enough to start making an impact now. And it will only get better. His on and off the ball defense will too.

The improvement of Hayes’ off hand is a must, along with his catch and shoot ability. But he will have time and a place to commit errors and learn from them. That’s a good starting point for a 19 year old entering the NBA.

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