Hayes was the first overseas player off the board in the 2020 NBA Draft
as the Detroit Pistons snapped up the point guard with the ninth pick
of the first round. The French-American played in the Bundesliga for
Ulm for one season after previously spending two seasons in France in
the Pro A for Cholet Basket. At the age of 19, Hayes already has a
wealth of his experience at his disposal outside of the traditional
route of players that have been selected in the first round of the NBA
There is every hope that the point guard will be able to hit the ground
running in his rookie campaign. Departures elsewhere may force the
issue and allow Hayes to be the starter from day one.
Piston general manager Troy Weaver and head coach Dwane Casey have been
bullish over his prospects and that of the entire team. Detroit missed
out on a place in the post-season last term, and have failed to
progress beyond the first round since 2008 when they were beaten by the
Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Due to the competitive nature of the Central Division that includes the
Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks, the Pistons face a battle to
qualify for the playoffs in the 2020/21 campaign, highlighted in the odds on NBA betting on bet365 of +10000
to win the division. However, Casey and his men have the chance to lay
the platform for a future charge and Hayes will be a key figure.
Casey has worked wonders with point guards in the
past, bringing out the best in Kyle Lowry and developing Fred VanVleet
at the Toronto Raptors. Hayes could be his next project, having already
taken strides in the rehabilitation of Derrick Rose last season. The
32-year-old has worked his way back to fitness over the last two
seasons after a career that has been marred by injury. Rose averaged
18.1 points per game and 5.6 assists, suggesting that he still has
plenty to offer the franchise despite being far from the player that
dominated the NBA 10 years ago.
His performances on the court may not be his most critical role in the
coming season. Rose has the chance to mentor and guide Hayes on the
path to stardom in his career. The departure of Tony Snell has left a
void in the starting role as Detroit’s point guard, and Casey will be
looking to Hayes and Rose to take those minutes. The 19-year-old will
be under pressure to deliver from the off, although he has a semblance of quality around him outside of Rose.
Experienced players Blake Griffin, Jerami Grant, Jahlil Okafor and
Mason Plumlee have the ability to put points on the board. There is a
building youth moment led by Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk after his strong
sophomore season, although Josh Jackson and fellow 2020 first-round
pick Isaiah Stewart could develop into solid role players.
The Pistons have a good mix of youth and experience on their roster,
and it’s certainly in better shape than previous seasons. However,
their form will hinge on the performances of their rookie. If Hayes can
make the decisive impact the franchise are hopeful of, then a return to
the post-season could come sooner than expected.