Detroit — Pistons guard Killian Hayes made adjustments to his shooting form that he hopes, combined with confidence, will improve his shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
During the offseason, the third-year guard worked with Pistons assistant coach Jerome Allen and senior advisor/player development coach John Beilein on the mechanics of his jump shot.
“I used to bring it up the middle, now it’s more to the side,” Hayes said after practice on Thursday. “I think that’s the main thing and just shooting with confidence. That’s it.”
During his first two seasons, Hayes gathered and launched his shot directly in front of his face. The result wasn’t efficient, making 27% (64-of-239) of his 3-point shots during his first two years in the league. Now, his release is closer to the left side of his shoulder, but his elbow is tucked.
Changing a player’s shooting form is often unnatural and can take a while to get adjusted to. However, Pistons coach Dwane Casey says it’s not uncommon for players to tweak their shot early in their career.
“He’s still young. He’s just turned 21,” Casey said. “He’s still a young kid and I’ve had guys change their shots late in their careers. He’s still young and adjusting to it and it’s looking good. He’s playing with a lot of confidence, so I’m really proud of where he is right now.”
Hayes, who the Pistons drafted in 2020 with the No. 7 overall pick, averaged 6.9 points and 4.2 assists per game last season. As a rookie, he put up similar numbers at 6.8 points and 5.3 assists.
“Each year, you learn from your mistakes,” Hayes said. “You just keep improving and improving. From year to year, I’m just trying to improve every year. First two seasons, weren’t ideal and not what I was expecting, but learn and we grow. This year, I’m excited.”
Over the summer, he participated in a few notable pick-up games against other NBA players. He participated in the “Remy Runs” in Miami and the more popular Rico Hines runs in Los Angeles.
“He went down to Miami. I wasn’t there, but they went down and played against a lot of pros in Miami and that’s good for him,” Casey said. “He worked his behind off all summer, but he got a lot of pick-up in Miami and back here and LA, so he was all around playing around the country, which is good for him.”
Jumpshots aren’t fixed overnight. The league’s last notable shot adjustment comes from Bulls guard Lonzo Ball, who had an unorthodox form that improved significantly during his first year with in Chicago. Ball’s 3-point percentage has gradually increased over the last five seasons, leading to a career-high 42% last year, despite the 35-game sample size.
Hayes will likely serve as Detroit’s backup point guard, he’ll need to show that he’s ready to take the next step in his career now that he’s entering his third year. In the past, Casey has distributed “role cards” to specify each player’s role on the team. As of Monday’s media day, Hayes said the cards haven’t been passed out but he knows that he’s responsible for bringing his defensive intensity and playmaking to the team.
“It’s Year 3. He’s still not like a 10-year vet, but each year he’s more confident and understanding what we’re doing,” Casey said. “I think we will see this with all of our guys, whether it’s Cade, Saddiq (Bey), Isaiah (Stewart/Livers), all of them, are getting used to the speed of the NBA and how fast things are going and moving, and that takes time. I wish could wave a magic wand and say ‘OK, time to flip the switch,’ and once it does, we’ll see it with all of those young guys.”