Detroit Pistons: Importance of Killian Hayes playing off-guard

Dwane Casey head coach of the Detroit Pistons talks with Killian Hayes (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Dwane Casey head coach of the Detroit Pistons talks with Killian Hayes (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

Killian Hayes was handed the starting point guard position of the Detroit Pistons at the start of the season. With some potential very good ballhandlers joining the team next year, it is in his best interest to be able to play the shooting guard position a well.

The advent of positionless basketball is continuously changing the way front offices form rosters and coaches rotate lineups. As late as a decade ago, rarely did two floor generals see the floor at the same time. It is now commonplace.

Teams are quickly cutting defense out of the equation, and doubling down on points by finding more ways to spread the floor. Having two guards that can distribute but also score at all three levels opens door for endless possibilities.

Just ask the Brooklyn Nets (who do you think sets up all of Blake Griffin’s dunks?).

Can Killian Hayes play two-guard for the Detroit Pistons?

Traditional point guards like Killian Hayes, who have been conditioned as primary ball-handlers, must now find ways to adapt to maximize their minutes and game-by-game output. It’s no secret players who learn and are willing to adjust their game, find more opportunities to succeed.

Hayes’ skills are well documented and should give him a good chance to have a long NBA career.

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The Frenchman has elite size and vision for his position and showcased it well in the second half of the season, finishing with 5.3 assists per game. His progression and adaptation to the speed of the NBA is promising, despite poor shooting numbers (35.3% from the field).

Moving forward with a young roster, the Detroit Pistons will have options for how they want to shape the future. Of course, much rides on their NBA Draft selection in July and the possibility of snagging a Cade Cunningham or Jalen Suggs; both players have shown the ability to play off-ball in college, and could fit nicely alongside Hayes.

It seems like coach Dwane Casey was prepping for the chance of having multiple point guards on the roster long-term, shifting Hayes to a combo-guard role in several situations towards the end of last season.

In fact, Hayes’ best game to date came May 9th vs. Chicago, where he played extensive minutes alongside fellow rookie point guard, Saben Lee. Hayes finished with 21 points and eight assists.

“I love it. That’s the second game I played at the same time with Saben and I love being able to play and be off the ball,” Hayes said after the game when asked about seeing time at shooting guard, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News.

His commitment to this alternate role is encouraging and will give the Pistons more options for building a long-term roster, especially if they draft a guard in the upcoming draft.

Hayes certainly needs to make more improvements on his shooting for this to work; most notably his three-point shot. He shot a meager 27.8% on only 2.8 three-point attempts per game last season. His development offensively over the next few seasons may be the barometer as to how fast this team gets back to relevancy, and it starts with the jump shot.

There are plenty of roster combinations the Pistons can experiment with moving forward, and it will be intriguing to see who else they add to the position. With Blake Griffin’s leftover contract constraints, it’s unlikely Detroit will go after a coveted point guard in free agency.

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As it stands today, Hayes and veteran Cory Joseph are the only point guards with guaranteed contracts going into next season (and Joseph is only a partial guarantee).

Regardless of who is picked up, the youngster’s ability to play both guard positions, may be the difference between a good or a great team for Detroit down the road.