Killian Hayes is entering his 3rd season for the Detroit Pistons, one many are calling a “make or break” year for the young guard.
I don’t really think that is true, as he is still just 20-years-old, has shown high-ceiling talent at times and it’s not like he’s holding the Pistons back from winning a title this season if he doesn’t improve.
We often rush to call guys “busts” when the truth is that many NBA players do not become who they are going to be until later in their 20’s.
Hayes has also had some bad luck with injuries that seem to pop up every time he starts playing well, so hopefully this season he will be healthy and make the leap we’ve all been waiting for.
But if he doesn’t, we may have another Sekou Doumbouya on our hands, and that is not a good thing. While I do think Killian Hayes has shown more at this point in his career than Doumbouya ever did for the Detroit Pistons, there are some similarities that are hard to ignore.
Detroit Pistons: Sekou Doumbouya and Killian Hayes
Hayes has had some flashes for the Detroit Pistons, most of which have come in games that didn’t matter. That’s not his fault, as Detroit has not been good since he’s been with the team, but Killian’s big games have been few and far between.
The same could be said of Doumbouya, who had some really nice outings for the Pistons where he went off and flashed his considerable talent. Then he would promptly disappear again, and just like Killian, we never saw it consistently.
Both came to the NBA as talented but raw prospects that the Pistons knew would take some time, but patience is in short supply in professional sports, especially for two guys selected in the top half of the first round.
In both cases, the Pistons passed on safer players to swing for the high-ceiling prospect, a move fans applauded after years of playing it safe with picks like Luke Kennard. But the risk with these high ceiling/low floor picks is that if they don’t work out, you don’t have a serviceable NBA player.
Both players had/have major flaws that they haven’t really improved, as Sekou couldn’t contribute on offense and never showed the type of motor it takes to succeed in the NBA.
Killian Hayes still can’t shoot, which is a pretty big deal in a league dominated by scoring guards and wings, a trait he shared with Doumbouya, who also couldn’t shoot. Neither of them have averaged more than seven points per game in their short careers.
And just like Sekou did last season, Killian is starting to hear the steps of the players behind him who are coming for his job. Not only have the Detroit Pistons added Cade Cunningham, but now Jaden Ivey and Alec Burks to their guard ranks.
We’ve seen G-League guys come up and play better than Killian, so the clock is ticking, as the Detroit Pistons are shifting from tanking to trying to win games and are going play the guys that give them the best chance to do that.
Hayes will get more chances than Sekou simply based on his draft position and the fact that he plays point guard. There’s also the fact that he was drafted by the current regime and Sekoiu wasn’t, but Killian has to show something soon or the Pistons are going to go in a different direction.
Just ask Doumbouya, who played in just two games last season for the Lakers and may be out of the league before he turns 22-years-old.
I am rooting for Killian and I hope he makes the leap this season and proves all of his critics wrong, but things move quickly in the NBA. You can be a lottery stud one minute and out of the league the next.