Detroit Pistons: The Test – Russell Westbrook vs. Killian Hayes

ULM, GERMANY - MARCH 08: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Killian Hayes of Ratiopharm Ulm. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
ULM, GERMANY - MARCH 08: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Killian Hayes of Ratiopharm Ulm. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Detroit Pistons rookie point guard Killian Hayes will receive his biggest test to date on Saturday, as he will take on the Washington Wizards star guard Russell Westbrook. This will be, by far, the No. 7 overall draft pick’s toughest test to date.

It will definitely be an exciting episode of  Saturday Night Live when the Detroit Pistons face the host Washington Wizards in a rematch.

The Pistons beat Washington easily on Thursday, cruising to an 97-86 victory. They were up by 23 at halftime. Detroit is now 2-1 in the preseason.

However, the Wizards were missing three starters: forwards Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans plus  guard Russell Westbrook.

As this is the final tune-up before the regular season starts, one would think coach Scott Brooks would like them to get a few minutes of game action. The Wizards open at the Philadelphia 76ers, which had the best home record in the entire NBA last season, so it not like that have an easy start.

Bertans and Westbrook did not play Thursday simply to give them a rest. Hachimura has an eye infection, so his status is more in doubt.

If Westbrook does play on Saturday, he will present the biggest challenge, by far, for Detroit rookie Killian Hayes.

So far in the the preseason, Hayes has faced the Knicks’ Elfrid Payton and the Wizards’ Raul Neto. Neither is close to the same stratosphere of player as Westbrook, a former league MVP and a nine-time all-star.

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If we do indeed get a Westbrook vs. Hayes matchup, here are two things to watch:

Hayes against Westbrook’s speed

The one knock against Hayes during the draft process was that he is not an elite athlete. Westbrook is one of the fastest players in the NBA. He gets downcourt before most defenders have a chance to get back in time, scoring a lot of his points in transition. It will be interesting to see how Hayes defends him.

Hayes shooting success

While Hayes has had some success driving to the basket, he likes to take shots from outside as well. For the first couple of games, a lot of those shots were off the mark. However, in the first quarter against the Wizards, he make a couple of jumpers and drew contact to get to the foul line. His success now being guarded by a much quicker player in Westbrook, will be interesting.

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The Pistons open up the NBA regular season at Minnesota, where Hayes will have to take on the veteran Ricky Rubio. Getting to face Westbrook would certainly help the 19-year-old Frenchman’s learning curve.