Killian Hayes is looking great as a sub for Pistons, that’s OK for now

Killian Hayes (7) Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Killian Hayes (7) Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Since being moved out of the starting lineup, guard Killian Hayes has looked much improved for the Detroit Pistons. But is being a really good sub an accomplishment for a former No. 7 overall draft pick?

There was little positive for the Pistons coming out of its 141-119 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The team had Cade Cunningham back (albeit on a minutes restriction) and about as healthy as it has been this season. Still, they got creamed at home by a team clinging to make the Play-in tournament.

But there was one positive piece of news: Killian Hayes looked good. Actually, he looked really good.

The 6-foot-5 Frenchman tallied 11 points, 12 assists, three rebounds and a steal in 28 minutes.

light. Related Story. What is the point of Killian Hayes coming off the bench?

The most important stat of the Hornets game might be that Hayes only committed one turnover, While his teammates were playing ‘hot potato’ when they had the ball, Hayes took care of it. Now, Hayes did not change the momentum of the game, as the team was a minus-14 when Hayes was in the game, but it was not his fault they got their doors blown off.

This was the 11th straight game that Hayes came off the bench. He has run the ‘bench mob’ since returning to the lineup on January 22, after sitting out with a recurrence of his thumb injury. At the time it began, coach Dwane Casey labeled it as an ‘experiment’. The way Hayes is playing, it looks like the experiment is a success.

Even when Cade Cunningham missed five games due to injury, Casey did not start Hayes in his place.

Killian Hayes now a scorer?

Hayes has always been an above-average defender and passer, it is on the offensive end where he has had trouble. No longer playing with the big names he might have deferred to previously, Hayes has been bolder in looking to score.

The scoring stats bear this out:

Number of games Killian Hayes has scored 10 points or more this season:

33 games as starter: 6

11 games off the bench: 4

He has almost as many double-digit point games as a sub as he did as a starter.

Of course, Hayes is not just strictly the backup point guard. When the other team features small lineups, Casey has put him out there with Cunningham and Cory Joseph down the stretch of games. With Detroit’s defense looking like a sieve of late, Hayes’ defensive skills are needed.

With Joseph and Cunningham starting, and Saben Lee busy scoring 30 points a game in the G-League, Hayes is the only point guard off the bench. Hayes has talked about how he is enjoying running the show when Casey puts in the subs.

So everything seems just peachy keen, and you can expect Hayes to continue to start the game on the bench for the rest of the season.

However, this begs one additional questions: Is being a valuable substitute Hayes ceiling? Is this the most the Pistons will get out of him? After all, he was the No. 7 overall pick in the NBA draft two years ago. Detroit did not by-pass Tyrese Haliburton for a player to take the place of Bruce Brown.

Related Story. Killian Hayes needs to harness his garbage time self. light

Is Killian Hayes the new Bruce Brown?

Brown was a valuable sub for the Pistons as a defensive-oriented, hard-working guard until, in literally his first trade as general manager, Troy Weaver sent Brown to the Nets for a second-round draft pick. Brown has been a valuable sub for Brooklyn since.

Since Brown was just worth a second-rounder, there are bigger expectations for Hayes.

As coach Dwane Casey has pointed out, Hayes is still only 20-years-old. Also, in terms of game experience, he is still a rookie, as Hayes has missed a lot of time due to injuries. Following the Charlotte contest, he has played 70 games, less than a full season.

Worse, those 70 include wide gaps of inaction due to the injuries, so it has been difficult for Hayes to have any sense  of consistency

Next. Killian Hayes must now become a scorer for Detroit Pistons. dark

If the move to the bench is a way to give Hayes added confidence and  gain experience out of the spotlight of the starting lineup, then this ‘experiment’ will be deemed a success.

However, this needs to be a temporary situation. This year is fine, but, by next season, if Hayes is still a ‘nice bench piece’ then it will be called a disappointing draft pick to  many.