The ceiling on Killian Hayes

Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Killian Hayes has been playing much better lately. However, if he does not improve one part of his game, there is a ceiling on just how valuable he can be to the Detroit Pistons.

We should probably stop comparing Killian Hayes to Tyrese Haliburton. Yes, Haliburton has had, so far, a much better NBA career (he got traded for an All-Star in Sabonis after all), but he was also selected 12th overall in the 2020 draft. Since Detroit took Hayes at No. 7, that means FOUR OTHER TEAMS also passed on Haliburton, after the Pistons selected the Frenchman.

You can’t look at everything in a vacuum. There were legitimate concerns about the mechanics of Haliburton’s shot coming out of college. I thought he was a great prospect, but, obviously, many people had doubts. They were wrong, but Detroit was not the only team to be wrong on Haliburton.

Hayes is now in his second year and seems to be improving. The move to the bench has given him more confidence. And just because he does not start, does not mean he doesn’t finish games. Against the Hornets and Wizards, he played in crunch time in the fourth quarter.

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Hayes is here in Detroit and that is what Pistons fans have to deal with. Wishing they had taken someone else doesn’t make it happen (If it did, Devin Booker would be playing for Detroit now).

The 6-foot-5 Hayes, who is still just 20-years-old, has shown himself to be a fine passer and defender. Despite his age, he is fundamentally sound. He has a better than 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio.

His backcourt mate, Cade Cunningham, things Hayes will be fine:

Yes, Hayes does a lot of the little things that help a team win. But he does NOT do a very big thing: Score.

What Killian Hayes really needs to work on, and he will

You can use all kinds of metrics to prove a point, but the most obvious basketball statistic basically tells the story: Hayes averages 6.1 points a game. He also makes only 35.8% of his shots, although he is a good free throw shooter (making almost 80-percent of his foul shots) but does not get fouled shooting very often.

With the current game dominated by the three-point shot, if you are a guard, it is expected you will be at least a decent three-point shooter. Hayes is not, making just 26.6% of his attempts from beyond the arc in his career.

Coach Dwane Casey told Omari Sankofa II of the Free Press, that being able to hit the three-point shot consistently is something Hayes really needs to do, to progress in his career.

"“His growth is going to be determined by his 3-point shooting, how much he improves his 3-point shooting throughout the summer,” Casey said. “He should get about 1,000 shots a day if he wants to be great in his league. That’s going to be his charge, is being able to knock that down especially playing off-ball with Cade out there. That’s going to be so, so important for his next step in his career.”"

Casey is refreshingly blunt about Hayes future. If he can’t make three-point shots, it will limit his contributions to the team. We have all seen Ben Simmons problems in the 76ers playoff games having a guard who can’t shoot from outside.

At the moment, Hayes can work on his game in a low-pressure environment. Victories are not the Pistons priority but, hopefully in the near future, winning games and advancing in the playoffs will matter.

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How high Killian Hayes’ ceiling as a player is directly tied to him improving his outside shooting. If he can get that one facet, albeit an important one, of his game to even an average level, the sky could be the limit.