When looking for a polarizing player on the Detroit Pistons roster, one does not have to look very far. Sekou Doumbouya is the first name that comes to mind but even guys like Luka Garza, Saben Lee, Tyler Cook, and recently signed free agents Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph and Trey Lyles can create quite a debate. Heck, even Cade Cunningham’s Game 1 performance had Pistons Twitter blowing up.
This is probably true of all organizations and their fan bases, and you have to love the passion from the Pistons community and their love of this team. I know I do! But the one player that may have the fan base most divided through two games of Summer League and one abbreviated rookie season is Killian Hayes.
I was in Las Vegas for the OKC Thunder game and it seemed every other person I talked to was on one end of the spectrum or the other with how Killian played. “He was the worst player on the floor,” from one fan and then the next, “we saw A LOT of good things from Hayes tonight.” Again, Pistons Twitter seemed to have the same divide and this trend continued through Game 2. So, I decided to go to the film and take a look at Hayes’ second game in Summer League to see what I could find.
As with the Cade Cunningham breakdown, I want to EMPHASIZE that this is Summer League AND only a two-game sample size. I am only breaking down Game 2 but we did have the first game to give a little more to go off of but not NEAR enough to make any conclusions. So, with that said, a two-game sample size is not ideal to analyze whether Hayes has become a better 3-point shooter in the off-season, but I can take a look at what we have seen so far.
This is the aspect of his game I think the majority of fans want to see him improve the most because it naturally helps his ability to play with Cade Cunningham AND allows Cade to handle the ball more. I fully believe this is an area Killian has worked very hard on, reportedly with John Beilein, but through two games has yet to show improvement on his perimeter shot.
Looking to Score
For me, this is the aspect of Hayes game I wanted to see take the biggest jump. I understand why the 3-point shot is so important, BUT him being aggressive and looking to score when driving will help him display even more what he does best, pass the ball. I have been cautiously encouraged so far in this area! While I would like to see it even more, I do believe we have seen a step forward.
I always like to include the “other end” of the floor when doing these breakdowns and for Hayes, this may be the aspect of his game that most will agree on. While he can get beat at “the point of attack” by some guys, I love his willingness to get up and be aggressive on the ball. His length and activity (combined with Cunningham’s) also allows him to be disruptive. I’m really excited about the defensive potential of this backcourt long term.
I know a lot of fans are growing impatient with Killian’s improvement (or lack thereof), and I think we can all agree that landing the No. 1 pick and Cade Cunningham has sped up the timeline for everyone. BUT I do think we have seen some really good things from him, improvements in other areas and I for one, want to see how it all plays out over a full 82 game season.