The Detroit Pistons were never going to be real contenders this season. Sportsbooks gave the team the longest odds to win the NBA title (+40000), and it’s unlikely even the most optimistic fans could convince themselves the team had a legitimate chance to compete in the Eastern Conference.
But what Pistons fans could hope for and be excited about was the franchise’s future. Watching its young core develop throughout a season would offset the losing and give fans a reason to watch this year.
However, even that small bit of optimism took a hit when No. 7 overall pick, Killian Hayes, was diagnosed with a torn right labrum on Tuesday. According to reports in Michigan, Hayes could miss 4-6 weeks and possibly the rest of the season if he elects to have surgery.
Hayes has started in all seven games he was active for, averaging 4.6 points and 3.6 assists.
Detroit (1-7) lost to the Bucks on Wednesday in its first game without Hayes, 130-115, and will now host the Phoenix Suns on Friday at 7:05 p.m. The Pistons’ sports betting odds opened as five-point underdogs against Phoenix, while the total debuted at 218.5.
Hayes wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire when he was healthy, which can be expected for a rookie. He was shooting just 27% overall and was only 5 for 20 from 3-point range (25%). His 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio wasn’t great, either, with 25 assists and 17 turnovers.
But this season was set up perfectly for him to gain confidence and develop as a player. The Pistons had no grand expectations this season and the Detroit media would be patient with his development and not put pressure on him to succeed — unlike other major markets in the country. But now his season could potentially be lost, and his growth as a player will be stunted on top of now having to rehab a serious injury.
Hayes’ injury is similar to what then Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas suffered in 2017. Thomas was in the midst of averaging 28.9 points per game and was one of the league’s top guards before he was injured. Now, Thomas remains a free agent and never averaged more than 16 points per game as he’s struggled to regain the explosive form he had prior to being injured.
People heal in different ways and perhaps Hayes can physically return to what he was before, but the injury is just another hurdle in the franchise’s rebuilding efforts.
For the first time in his career, Jerami Grant is an offensive threat. Previously known as a 3-and-D wing, Grant has expanded his offensive repertoire with the Pistons to average a career-high 24 points per game.
The offensive growth is astounding considering Grant didn’t average double figures in his first six years in the league, and his previous season-high was 13.6 points per game in 2018-19.
Sure, he’s shooting a ton, averaging 18.9 shots per game, which is more than five more than the next Piston, but for a team with the worst record in the league, Grant’s newfound offense has been a welcome addition.