It’s no secret that this is a make-or-break season for Killian Hayes with the Detroit Pistons.
We all know his strengths and weaknesses so far, as he has shown flashes of being a very good defender and passer but has been one of the NBA’s worst shooters.
And now that the Pistons have added Monte Morris and Marcus Sasser, his spot in the rotation is no longer guaranteed, so he’ll be clawing for every minute he gets.
Hayes may eventually get there as a shooter, who knows, he’s only 22-years-old, but he doesn’t necessarily have to be a scorer to make an impact for the Detroit Pistons.
Hayes needs to embrace his inner Lindsey Hunter and he can carve out a role for himself as a disruptive defender.
Detroit Pistons: Lindsey Hunter is a great model for Killian Hayes
Lindsey Hunter was drafted by the Detroit Pistons before the 1993-94 season and he had seven very productive years where he averaged 11.2 points, 3.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting over 37 percent from 3-point range.
He had two seasons where he shot over 40 percent from 3-point range while averaging over 1.5 steals per game, so Hunter was very much a 3-and-D player from the guard position.
If Killian Hayes were to put up those kinds of numbers, Pistons’ fans would be ecstatic, but I don’t think anyone expects him to suddenly become a great 3-point shooter. Hunter was older as a rookie than Hayes is now, so he had more experience but still didn’t get there as a shooter until his third season when he was already 25-years-old.
Hayes needs to imitate the Hunter who returned to Detroit in 2003 after stints with the Bucks, Lakers and Raptors when he was a role player who almost exclusively came off the bench. Hunter didn’t get big minutes or shoot much, and he didn’t make many of the shots he did take, as his 3-point percentage dipped down to Killian Hayes’ levels.
But he was an important member of the Goin’ To Work team, a relentless defender who would come off the bench and change the game with his defense. His end-to-end hustle changed the pace of games and wore down star players.
You can go to YouTube and search for Lindsey Hunter defense to watch him guarding everyone from Kobe Bryant to Dwyane Wade to LeBron James and making their lives miserable.
Hunter wasn’t playing big minutes at this point in his career, but he embraced being a role player who had one duty, which was to frustrate and annoy teams with his defense. He had a knack for taking a charge or getting a steal in a big moment and was often the spark behind big runs from the bench.
Hayes could make a similar impact with his defense if he embraced the role and made it his focus in the minutes that he does get. Yes, he eventually has to be a league-average shooter to have a big role in the NBA, but he’s not in that position right now and needs to make the most of the role he does get.
That means staying positive and working hard when he gets on the floor, going full speed for every second, pushing the pace and trying to annoy the other team with his defense. Monty Williams will reward that kind of effort and it’s the best way at this point for Killian Hayes to get minutes.