Yesterday I made the claim that the Detroit Pistons should have drafted Tyrese Haliburton at seventh overall instead of Killian Hayes. Haliburton is a frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year Award and has been playing lights-out basketball in Sacramento. Currently, it seems like Detroit dropped the ball by passing on Haliburton, but in the future, that may change.
Killian Hayes has played limited minutes all season, so it’s very hard to determine where he will end up when we reflect on the draft class of 2020. He is not a bust, but he is certainly not as polished as LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Haliburton, or his Detroit peers Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart.
That doesn’t mean he won’t end up as the better player. While it seems far-fetched now, Killian Hayes has shown some promise that Haliburton simply hasn’t.
Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes is a better defender than Tyrese Haliburton
Since Hayes has played significantly fewer minutes than Haliburton this season, per-game stats do nearly nothing for us. However, Hayes has a higher steal percentage, more defensive win shares, and a better defensive rebounding percentage already.
To a point guard, defense is one of the most important aspects of the game, and Hayes has shown no reason that he won’t improve. His long wingspan and quick feet allow him to play smothering defense on the perimeter, and his size and strength prevent forwards from barreling over him in the post.
Hayes’s defense is one of the reasons he has played as much as he has. He is an asset on the court, and his defense has only gotten better as more opportunities arise. There is no reason to think that Hayes won’t end up on the All-Defensive teams in the future, and Haliburton simply does not show that kind of promise. At worst, Hayes will be a better-than-average defender, and at best he will be a guard who can lock down anyone on the court.