Observations: Killian Hayes shows poise to lead White team to victory in Pistons scrimmage

Detroit News

Detroit — Little Caesars Arena served as the site of the Pistons’ open practice and scrimmage Sunday, offering fans a sneak peek at their team before the preseason gets underway later this week.

It served as a sign that the 2022-23 season is right around the corner, with just 17 days remaining until the team’s opener against the Orlando Magic.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey addressed the crowd before the start of practice and promised improvement from last season and an emphasis on defense, which was evident several times throughout the scrimmage.

“One thing we want to do this year, we want to set the tone with our defense,” Casey said. “We want to be one of the top defensive teams in the league.”

The roster was split into two groups, a Blue team and a White team, and Casey warned not to look too much into the lineup strategy.

The Blue team was comprised of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Bojan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley III. On the White, stood Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Isaiah Livers, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren.

Outside of initial warmups, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks and Kevin Knox were non-participants due to injury.

The Pistons began the practice with defensive drills, followed by five-on-five half court sets. Before the scrimmage began, the team also simulated fast-break situations, mainly two-on-one scenarios.

The White team won in dominating fashion, 73-57, led by a combination of Hayes, Duren and Livers.

Here are some observations from the scrimmage, comprised of four 10-minute quarters and a running clock.

➤ Hayes has been vocal about his confidence throughout training camp. The third-year guard appeared comfortable leading the White team’s offense on Sunday. His passing remains sharp, especially when making the skip pass to the wing or corner. Hayes, who tweaked his jump shot during the offseason, didn’t shoot many 3-pointers. Instead, he found his sweet spots by either driving to the lane and finishing or utilizing his dribble pull-up in the midrange game. Hayes can serve as the clear facilitator of the offense when the the second unit is on the floor, and if he’s able to knock down a consistent 3-pointer every now and then to keep defenses honest, it’ll benefit the Pistons in the long run.

➤ Duren is a much-needed addition to the Pistons’ frontcourt. The 18-year old center, standing at 6-foot-10, was the recipient of several passes inside the paint. Most times, he had a matchup advantage and it required little effort to simply rise and place the ball in the basket. Duren was a force inside the paint from a defensive standpoint as well. He contested shots and even had a couple of blocks, including a blocked 3-point attempt on Cunningham.

➤ Entering his second season, Cunningham’s decision-making is going to be vital in order for the Pistons to improve upon last year’s win total. The second-year guard was poised for the most part of the scrimmage, selectively choosing when to look for his shot and when to get his teammates involved. Cunningham’s mid-range shot was crisp, and his 3-pointer appeared more fluid, too. On defense, Cunningham produced a highlight-worthy play as he blocked a layup attempt by Hayes. On the way back down the court, isolated and drained a contested shot as Hayes contested. The newfound muscle mass Cunningham obtained during the offseason seemed to help, as he absorbed contact when driving to the basket.

➤ Ivey is fast. He may be one of the fastest players on the roster. He used his quickness to blow by defenders and attack the rim. Like Hayes, the former Purdue star didn’t attempt many from distance, but he knocked down several during the warmup session. One thing to pay attention is Ivey’s tendency to drive to the basket and, if he doesn’t have an ideal shot, he jumps to pass out to a teammate. Again, it’s only a scrimmage, but it will be interesting to see how Ivey adjusts to the speed of the NBA once exhibition games begin.

➤ Stewart spent most of his time outside the 3-point line on Sunday, part of his concerted effort to evolve his perimeter game. The crowd inside Little Caesars Arena cheered every time the third-year forward knocked down a triple. Most of his deep attempts were either from the corner or at the top of the key. If Stewart can make the bulk of his shots from distance, it’ll allow the Pistons to use two big men more consistently.

➤ Jules Bernard, who signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Pistons shortly before training camp, came off the bench for the White team. The former UCLA star shot the ball well and made the right reads to get his teammates open looks.

Pistons vs. Knicks 

Tipoff: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Madison Square Garden, New York

TV/radio: TNT/Bally Sports Detroit

Outlook: The Pistons open the preseason with the first of a four-game slate against the Knicks. Time can only tell what Casey has planned for the starting lineups, but Sunday’s scrimmage could paint a clearer picture.

mcurtis@detroitnews.comTwitter: @MikeACurtis2

Articles You May Like

The Pindown: What to Make of the Fred Vinson Hire w/Jack Kelly
NBA Finals Game 4 GameThread: Celtics vs. Mavericks
Monty Williams’ return would be delaying the inevitable — this match doesn’t work
NBA Mock Draft 2024: Predicting how the top 10 picks in the draft could go
Report: Monty Williams return to Detroit ‘the likely outcome’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *