The Detroit Pistons tip off their 2023-24 training camp today and there will be plenty to talk about.
New head coach Monty Williams already rattled the fans’ cages when he talked about using Jalen Duren as a power forward next season during yesterday’s media day.
The Pistons have already suffered their first injury, not suprisingly to forward Isaiah Livers, who has yet to start a season healthy.
So new questions have emerged before camp even started, but old ones still remain, one of the biggest being, what is going to happen with Killian Hayes?
For the first time in his career, Hayes’ spot in the rotation is not guaranteed after Detroit traded for point guard Monte Morris and added combo-guard Marcus Sasser in the draft.
There are only so many guard minutes to go around with Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Alec Burks firmly in the rotation, so Hayes will have to battle everyone in training camp if he wants to get minutes.
Detroit Pistons training camp: Killian Hayes vs. everybody
Killian Hayes vs. Monte Morris
Morris was brought in to be a steadying veteran presence in the guard ranks. Unlike Hayes, he’s a proven 3-point shooter who also takes care of the ball and isn’t a slouch on defense. Hayes is bigger, and the better defender overall, but Morris’ shooting allows him to play with any of the other guards, while Hayes’ is still a work in progress. It’s hard to envision a scenario in which Hayes beats out Morris for the backup point guard role.
Killian Hayes vs. Marcus Sasser
It’s more likely Hayes is competing for a third guard spot, which could still be a meaningful role in certain matchups. Like Morris, Sasser is miles ahead of Hayes as a shooter, and is also a tenacious defender. Hayes is likely better at running the offense and provides more size, which could allow these two to play together at times, so it’s not an either/or situation. Given his NBA experience, you’d think Killian would have the advantage over the rookie, but Sasser is older than Killian and showed he can put up points in a hurry in Summer League, which may be a more valuable commodity off the bench in short spurts. Killian will need to embrace his inner Lindsey Hunter if he wants to win this battle in training camp, as he has to show he can make an impact on defense even if his shot isn’t falling.
Killian Hayes vs. Time
Ah, the battle we are all facing.
Hayes may be young, but he’s running out of time to prove he can be part of a winning team in Detroit. There is less than a month before rookie extensions have to be signed and it doesn’t look like one is coming his way. That means he’s likely to enter the season on an expiring deal that will look like a complete sunk cost if he is rotting on the bench. If the Detroit Pistons don’t envision him as part of the rotation, then we could see Hayes traded to a team that needs point guard depth and there are a few perfect options out there already.
Killian Hayes vs. the fans
There is a vocal segment of the fanbase that is ready to see the back of Killian Hayes. I am hoping this negativity will be motivation for him to finally break through next season, but it can’t be easy knowing a sizable chunk of your own fans don’t want you on the team. Fans are fickle and will come around quickly, so it won’t take much for Hayes to win them back, but fan patience has worn thin, so the margin for error will be thin. The new shiny toy always offers more hope, so if Hayes falters early, expect fans to start lobbying for Sasser.
I am cheering for Killian Hayes and would love to see him succeed in a Pistons’ uniform, but he has an uphill battle starting in training camp.