Killian Hayes' baffling season for the Detroit Pistons

Jan 15, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) and
Jan 15, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) and / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Killian Hayes has been the most polarizing player on the Detroit Pistons since I've been covering them, and maybe ever.

You have a hardcore group of Killian truthers who will never give up on the idea that his defense and passing are enough to translate into a solid backup NBA point guard. But most fans have given up on Hayes and for good reason.

Hayes is in his 4th season, and as usual with him, we've seen flashes of solid play, enough this season that it looked like he had finally figured some things out, which is typical of guards in year four.

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Hayes has gotten increased minutes and starts because of injuries, and at times, he's made the most of them.

But an illness threw a spanner into the works and when Hayes returned he's been a completely different player than the one that started the season, which, unfortunately, has been the story of his career.

A tale of two seasons for Killian Hayes and the Detroit Pistons

When the Pistons inexplicably traded up to get another guard, it seemed as if Hayes' time with the Pistons was coming to a close, but an injury to Monte Morris forced Detroit to keep him around, and at first, it looked to be paying off.

In the first 13 games of the season, Hayes averaged 10.2 points, 4.5 assists and three rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor and a pedestrian 31 percent from long range.

You could live with those numbers from Hayes, who scored in double digits seven times in those first 13 games, including a four-game stretch where he scored 13, 21, 14 and 23 in consecutive games.

The Pistons never needed Killian to be an elite scorer, but they also can't play four on five when he's on the court when the other team doesn't even bother to guard him, which has been the case recently.

In the last 10 games since returning from his illness, Hayes has averaged 3.7 points, 6.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 34 percent from the floor and 11 percent from long range.

Hayes barely even looks at the basket anymore and teams barely look at him when he has the ball. He's air-balled five-foot shots, clanked 3-pointers so badly that he threatened to break the backboard and generally been zero threat to score.

Hayes does some things well, but a team whose offense already lacks firepower can't have a guy on the floor who other teams don't even have to guard.

I was so hoping the Hayes we saw in those first 13 games would last all season, that he would finally make enough progress to be a good backup point guard, but just like the other three seasons of his career, Hayes' good moments are few and far between and come in streaks with zero consistency.

There will probably be another good stretch for Killian at some point this season, but it's just Fool's Gold until we see him do it for more than just a few games.

He's one of the most frustrating players I've ever watched and it's hard to imagine the Detroit Pistons (or anyone else) bringing him back after this season. I hope it works out for Killian, but if it does, it will likely be for a different team.