Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes coming into his own lately

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Has Killian Hayes figured it out?  The point guard exploded Friday night in Oklahoma City, scoring a career-high 26 points for the short-handed Detroit Pistons.

Following head coach Dwane Casey’s decision to move him to the bench, things began to change for Hayes.  The move to the bench allowed Hayes to hit the reset button, and it seems he’s regained his confidence along the way.  Hayes seemed to be pressing yet very tentative at times, always looking to make a pass rather than attacking the rim.

Playing alongside Cade Cunningham, Jerami Grant, and Saddiq Bey seemed to force Hayes to differ rather than create his own shot or drive the lane and get a bucket himself.

One part of Hayes’ game that has remained the same throughout the year is his defensive abilities.  Hayes is a tremendous defender, and he once again put that on display Friday evening, forcing five turnovers.  Over the past three games, Hayes has totaled 12 steals.

Casey has often used the second-year guard with the second group. Still, he’s been overlapping with Cade and company over the past couple of weeks averaging over 31 minutes per game with Grant sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a calf injury.

Killian Hayes is quickly becoming the player Detroit Pistons fans hoped he’d be.

Hayes has started two of the past seven games during this stretch while averaging 12.9 points, 5.3 boards, 4.3 assists, and 2.4 steals per game.  The 20-year old guard is also converting on nearly 49% of his attempts from the field.

It’s a huge boost when you compare those numbers to his season averages of 6.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while shooting just 38% from the field.

Friday night, Cunningham, Bey, and center Isaiah Stewart played eight minutes before being lifted for the second and third-string.  Both the Thunder (5 games left) and Pistons (4 games left) have 22 wins on the season and are hoping to finish in the bottom three, where they’d be guaranteed the best odds to secure the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Here’s how we currently sit when it comes to the lottery.  The top three teams all have a 14% of landing the first overall pick; the fourth team has a 12.5% chance, followed by 10.5% for the fifth team.

Orlando Magic (20-58)

Houston Rockets (20-58)

Detroit Pistons (22-56)

Oklahoma City (22-55)

Indiana Pacers (25-53)

dark. Next. Cade Cunningham is quickly becoming a superstar

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For the Pistons, you toe a thin line between winning yet still hoping to pair another star player with Cunningham for years to come through the NBA lottery.  Detroit is a young team and building confidence by winning some huge games down the stretch as they did Thursday night by upsetting the Philadelphia 76ers.