Detroit Pistons’ Killian Hayes endures growing pains in rookie season


The NBA isn’t always easy. For a few elite players, it’s almost a seamless transition from college ball to professional. Even seasoned college players often struggle to adjust to the speed of the game and level of play.

It was predictably difficult for piston newcomer Killian Hayes. The 19-year-old has only played four games and it has been difficult for him, both on the eye test and looking at the statistics. He averaged just five points, 1.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, and shoots 23% on 3-pointers.

It’s not all on Hayes, however. He was in a difficult position, less than a month between the draft and the first game. There was no time to get used to regularly playing 5v5 basketball with your new teammates, let alone getting the full rookie experience that included a rookie mini-camp, summer league games, and more time for his games would have brought wet feet.

There is no such luxury during the pandemic.

Derrick Rose, a former league MVP who now acts as a mentor and backup point guard, sees the difference day and night. He was able to play in a regular summer league and a few other games with Team USA Select Team, which gave him more experience against NBA veterans.

“I think it’s very, very difficult for kids… it’s really not fair. I played in the Summer League, where I did terribly, but at least I was able to play those games, ”said Rose on Thursday. “In the Select Team you only play defense. It gave me confidence to play on these teams because I could get the ball on the field …

“You look at a kid like Killian and he got none of it. He’s thrown right in. He’s got a poker face. I’ll talk to him as much as I can and text him and let him know he needs to relax and play his game. He has to learn with experience. “

It’s been a bumpy ride in the first few weeks of the regular season, with the Pistons losing their first four games and Hayes, who sprained a right ankle on Tuesday, didn’t play for most of the second half.

“If you look at his history in Germany, it was similar,” said Pistons head coach Dwane Casey. “When he went to Germany for the first time there was a little learning curve, and when he got through it, he started. I’m not worried.”

Hayes was not considered a volume shooter in his season at Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany and scored 15, two, two and six points in his first four games there. After that, he seemed comfortable, averaging 16.7 points and 7.3 assists over the next three games. He finished the season with impressive averages: 24 points, six rebounds and 11 assists.

It may only take a while.

Casey said Hayes had shown no frustration in practice that things are moving slowly and that he has received coaching and mentoring well, as have all newbies and young players in the early stages of their rebuilding. However, Hayes is the epicenter of the roster redesign to be number 7 overall as he has been put in a starting role where he can sink or swim without the fear of sitting on a bench.

“Every time you look around the league, a lot of the conscripts come off the bank. As an organization, we’ve put Killian in a position where he’ll be the point guard of the future, ”said Casey. “We threw him in the fire – which was really unfair for him because there is no summer league, no August or September (training time). You train directly in Florida and compete against NBA players.

“It’s tough, but the only way he’ll learn is to go through this and not get frustrated and struggle through it. Human nature sometimes kicks in, but it’s part of growth. “

Part of the NBA transition is the mental side where beginners need to learn from their mistakes every night and quickly convert them into meaningful lessons that minimize repeating those mistakes. There can be a lot of feedback from many different directions that is sometimes too much to process.

Having a rookie fight in the league is not an anomaly, especially at Point Guard.

“When you look at the history of the start of Rookie Point Guards, it always gets difficult for them,” said guard Delon Wright. “That’s the beauty of it. He is young and at 19 he has a lot of potential. The more he can learn now, the more it will help him in years 2 and 3 and in his career. “

Pistons versus Celtics

Tip: Friday, 7 p.m., Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

TV / radio: FSD / 97.1 FM

Outlook: The Pistons led all four games in the fourth quarter but fell short each time. The Celtics (3-2) have won the two-game weekend twice in a row for their only visit this season. Jaylen Brown had the best 42 points of his career against the Grizzlies on Wednesday.

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Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard