Killian Hayes working hard this summer

Killian Hayes working hard this summer

Killian Hayes putting in the work

Things didn’t exactly go according to plan last season for Killian Hayes. The number seven overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft suffered a hip injury early in the campaign that kept him on the shelf for a couple of months and even when he did return to the lineup he didn’t put up the numbers he would have liked.

However, he can be excused for struggling during his first season in the National Basketball Association as it was a difficult time for all players, but especially rookies. They did not have the opportunity to play Summer League and the preseason was anything but normal with players having to practice on their own for large chunks of it.

That is not the case this summer though and Killian Hayes looks to be taking advantage of it. The 20-year-old has been working out in Detroit with fellow rookies Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Saben Lee.

“It’s been great because we’ve been able to practice with all the guys but also practice individually,” Hayes said, via the Detroit News. “We’ve been able to do both, especially like everything that’s team related, playing 3-on-3, 2-on-2 or 1-on-1, just going through drills, so we just build that chemistry even more.”

Despite his struggles last season, Hayes did finish the campaign strongly and is looking to capitalize on the momentum he was able to build at the very end. He made it clear to reporters that the priority for him during the summer is to work on his shooting.

“Definitely shooting, I worked a lot on my shooting, footwork and using my body,” Hayes said. “Defensively, just being really a dog and just playing hard defense. I got my footwork way better, putting in work every day in the weight room. I’m really working on all-around aspects of the game, but my main focus has been shooting and ball-handling, just being more physical on the floor.”

Hayes has been able to get some specialized training in with new Pistons development director John Beilein to help him improve his shot.

“Coach Beilein is the one who put in all the shooting drills so he’s real big on shooting fundamentals, footwork, even simple things like passing. I know I can pass the ball, but it’s just going back to the roots and working on fundamentals,” Hayes said. “The coaches put us through different drills so we got five minutes shooting to try and get 85 shots up, get above 60 or 70 percent, and we’ve got a whole bunch of shooting drills, a lot of competitive stuff so just keeps us going.”

The Pistons may have finished dead last in the Eastern Conference with an abysmal record of 20-52 last year, but they’ve got a strong young core that will inevitably be bolstered this week at the NBA Draft as they hold the number one overall pick.

“It’s going to be exciting, especially for the fans. When I walk through the airport everybody stops me, like ‘Who are we going to pick?’ (I say) Just like you, I don’t know, but it’s exciting. 

“I know the city is really excited so it’s just going to bring us that boost. I’m just looking forward for my new teammate.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the 2021-22 campaign turns out for Hayes and the Pistons, but fans have to be excited to see the youngster putting in the work.