Killian Hayes needs to harness his garbage time self

Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Killian Hayes did not have a great game for the Detroit Pistons in their loss to Minnesota even though he ended with 10 points and eight assists.

In fact, going into the 4th quarter, Hayes had three more turnovers than points, as he had yet to score and was turning in another “but he can play defense!” performance where fans try to find some kind of silver lining to another poor offensive game.

Detroit was scrambling to come back for most of the game before the Timberwolves eventually put them away in the 4th. The Pistons came into the quarter down and started playing with a little more desperation and energy.

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It was during these few minutes that we got a glimpse of how Killian Hayes need to play all of the time.

Killian Hayes in garbage time for the Detroit Pistons

The Pistons were only down five with just over three minutes to go, but it never really seemed like they were going to get over the hump against Minnesota.

The entire 4th quarter was more or less “garbage time” when the Pistons were playing with desperation trying to come back.

The strange thing is that for a few minutes, Hayes played some of his best basketball of the season.

He took it aggressively to the rack on a pick and roll for a nice finish, hit an in-rhythm 3-point shot without hesitation and set a nice off-ball screen for Saddiq Bey for an open 3-pointer.

He then used a burst on a secondary fast break to get all of the way to the rim for a scoop and finish. On the next play he powered past Patrick Beverley and got all of the way to the rim for a finish again.

The next two plays were assists to Bey for 3-point shots, which were open because the defense suddenly had to react to Killian Hayes’ penetration. His final play was another pick-and-roll with Isaiah Stewart where Beef Stew peeled off, took his defender with him and Hayes was able to get to the rim again and finish with a dunk.

It was one of the best stretches of Hayes’ career offensively (sad but true), as he was being aggressive, not over-thinking things and just playing basketball.

Unfortunately, it was way too late for the Pistons, but this is precisely the type of play we need to see from Killian moving forward. Detroit needs him to harness his garbage-time self, the guy who plays with desperation, instinct and aggression.

We’ve been seeing a little more of this since he was moved to the bench, which probably removed some of the pressure he was feeling to produce, but it still is only in short bursts and usually once the game is already decided.

If I were coach Casey, I’d have Hayes watch those plays on a loop and tell him that’s who he needs to be all of the time. Play free, play with desperation, energy and be aggressive taking the ball to the rack.

If Killian Hayes could just harness his garbage time self, he can be an impact player for the Detroit Pistons, but we have to see it for more than a few minutes in games that are already over.

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