Why did Killian Hayes play one game? That was the plan?
So, let’s get this straight, three of the top four picks in the 2022 draft can play 3-5 games but Killian Hayes only needs to play once (he had no injury, we were told that was ‘the plan’.). Cunningham, Bey sitting it out, fine, but what has Hayes done to deserve this honor?
He can’t shoot the basketball and he needs to see as much action as possible to learn how to score during the course of a game. Optimally it would be in a low-key environment like summer league, where he can chuck up threes and go to the hoop and not worry about the score or ticking off teammates (these guys would be thrilled just to be on the court with him.)
In addition to Hayes, there were other Pistons who would have benefitted from more playing time in summer league. Remember, training camp is still two months away. Practice, working out and pick-up games are all well and good, but it is not the same as facing an opponent trying to beat you, with referees ready to blow the whistle (calling fouls on Pistons is like their favorite hobby).
Detroit Pistons players who could have benefitted from more NBA Summer League action
Isaiah Stewart: Judging where he played in his two games, the Pistons are moving ‘Beef Stew’ to the power forward position, as he started alongside pure center Jalen Duren. Stewart admitted he never played anything but center before in his life, until arriving in Las Vegas. The experiment went well, Stewart shot 55.5% on three-pointers.
So why cut off Stewart’s learning, and gaining confidence in his outside shot, arbitrarily after two games?
Jalen Duren: The kid is 18-years-old and should have been finishing high school this past season. He needs to be playing every single game he can. Duren was benched after three games, when all of Detroit’s top guards, Jaden Ivey, Hayes and Saben Lee were done.
Once Charlie Moore found his rhythm as starting point guard, he and Duren would have made a good combo, 5-foot-11 and a 6-foot-11 player. Heck, Balsa Koprivica was looking pretty good at center playing with Moore, netting a double-double in the first game Duren sat out.
Isaiah Livers: Is the Michigan product now ‘too good for summer league’ with just 19 NBA games of experience? Due to injuries suffered his senior year as a Wolverine, Livers basically took an entire year off from basketball, until returning for the tail end of last season.
He looked good in that brief period of time and also played well in his two games of summer league. Livers averaged 14.5 points and shot 38.5% on three-point tries. He also did a respectable job on defense.
Just to shake off the rust, one would think the Pistons would want Livers playing as many games as possible. He was picked in the middle of the second round last year, not like it would be insulting for him to have to play more summer league.
But, nope, Livers was bubble wrapped along with the big names.