Detroit Pistons: The lineup adjustment Monty Williams has to make

Portland Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe (17) strips the ball from Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Portland Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe (17) strips the ball from Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

A couple of things became clear in the Detroit Pistons’ grueling loss to the Portland Trail Blazers last night: They need to get healthy, and it’s time for Monty Williams to make some adjustments to his starting lineup and rotation.

Without Bojan Bogdanovic, Monte Morris, Isaiah Livers, Alec Burks and Jalen Duren, the Pistons didn’t have enough firepower late in the game and relied heavily on Cade Cunningham to do everything. He was up to the task for most of it, but ran out of steam and committed some bad turnovers to go along with his missed shots.

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Hopefully, the Pistons will get some of their guys back tonight, as they really missed Duren and Burks against the Trail Blazers.

Monty Williams can’t control injuries, but one thing he can control is his rotation, and it’s time for a change.

It’s time for Killian Hayes to go to the Detroit Pistons’ bench

I was really hoping this would finally be the year that Killian Hayes figured it out for the Detroit Pistons. After a strong preseason and some words of confidence from his coach, Hayes has been in the starting lineup for all five games.

The starting lineup has been a -18 overall with a horrible 94 offensive rating and part of that is because Killian Hayes has been the worst offensive player in the NBA. After going 0-6 last night, Hayes is now shooting 27 percent for the season, worst of his career, which is saying a lot considering he was the worst shooter in the NBA last season.

Hayes’ defense has been good at times, risky and sloppy at others, and certainly not good enough to justify his offense. He had one of his worst games as a pro last night and it wasn’t just the missed shots. He played selfishly, dribbled too much, and most of the shots he did take were bad ones. I don’t even mind the missed shots if they come in the flow of the offense, but when they come after Hayes dribbles the life out of the ball and takes a contested mid-range fallaway, not so much.

The sample size is small, but when you switch Hayes with Alec Burks in the same lineup, the offensive rating goes up to 140 and the defensive rating down to 70 for a +69 net rating overall.

If Burks is back tonight, he should be in the starting five.

But it doesn’t end there.

Marcus Sasser is better than Killian Hayes

Not only should Killian Hayes be out of the starting five, but I’d like to see him and Marcus Sasser swap minutes as well. Sasser is simply better than Killian at everything offensively and is just as good on defense, in fact, I like Sasser’s ball-hawking even though Hayes has more size and is more versatile.

Sasser is a much better shooter and has the poise to control the offense, which he did well last night, racking up six assists in the first half alone. He also added four steals, so I don’t see him as a big defensive drop-off and he’s not a huge negative on offense like Hayes.

It’s possible Hayes could thrive in a lineup surrounded by shooters, but right now, the Pistons don’t have them, which was evident last night when Cade Cunningham had to carry the offense by himself.

Ausar Thompson hasn’t shot the ball well either, but he does so many other things well that you don’t even notice. His defense and rebounding have been game-changers for the Pistons, so you can’t compare his shooting woes to Killian’s. Even with a slow start, Thompson is still shooting 40 percent from the floor.

I want Killian Hayes to succeed as much as anyone, but right now he’s hurting the Detroit Pistons. He doesn’t have to be removed from the rotation altogether, especially right now with so many injuries, but Monty Williams should get him out of  the starting five and start using Sasser as the primary backup.

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