The Detroit Pistons got hit with the double whammy of schedule and injuries early in the 2022-23 season.
Detroit has played more games than any team in the Eastern Conference, and has also had more road games and back-to-backs.
And they’ve been doing it without their full roster, as Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey went down just as Alec Burks and Marvin Bagley III were rejoining the team from their injuries.
Bey came back last night, but now Jaden Ivey and Bojan Bogdanovic have been out. Stewart should be back soon and Cunningham is still in limbo, so it’s been a frustrating season for a young team that still has no idea what it can be.
The ironic part is that the Pistons are playing their best basketball of the season with their depleted roster, staying close in games and competing even though they are shorthanded.
It’s a shame that this season has so far been wrecked by injuries, but one positive to come out if it is that Killian Hayes has gotten to play a bigger role and seems to have turned his season around.
Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes turning his season around
Killian Hayes got off to a brutal start to the season and that is putting it nicely. His shooting percentages were the worst in the NBA for rotation player and there was even talk of sending him to the G-League to try and get right.
To his credit, coach Dwane Casey preached patience with Killian and kept him in there even when he was struggling and his confidence looked shot.
When Cade Cunningham (and then Jaden Ivey) went out with injuries, Killian was forced into the starting lineup and a much bigger role, and since then, he’s been playing much better and looks like a whole different guy when it comes to body language and confidence.
In the 10 games without Cade Cunningham, Killian is averaging 10.8 points, 6.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting 38.9 percent from the floor and 36.8 percent from 3-point range.
Those shooting percentage are nothing to gloat about, but they are like Stephen Curry compared to where he was early in the season when he looked like the worst scorer in the NBA.
He is still struggling with consistency, but we’ve seen him look a lot more confident from 3-point range, and last night a few of his runners and floaters went in as well, which is a great sign, as he can be effective in the pick-and-roll with Marvin Bagley III if he can hit that shot.
His improved offense has carried over to the defensive end, where he’s been a lot more aggressive and impactful, averaging 1.5 steals per game. He’s been a little too aggressive at times, and is still picking up a lot of silly fouls, but you love to see Hayes not playing passively.
He’s also been much better running the offense of late, averaging 7.3 assists over the last six games, getting to nine assists three times in that span. He looked patient and comfortable in the PnR last night with Bagley III and made some pinpoint dishes in transition as well.
Hayes still has a long way to go as an offensive player, but he has been playing with renewed confidence and looks like a different player since taking on a bigger role during the Detroit Pistons’ injury struggles.