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Pistons plan to start rookie Hayes: 'Let's throw him in the deep end'

NBA Photos / National Basketball Association / Getty

Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey seemingly intends to give point guard Killian Hayes - the team's seventh overall pick in last month's draft - a rude introduction to the NBA, likely making him the team's starting point guard to begin the year.

"Let’s throw him in the deep end," Casey told reporters prior to Friday's preseason opener against the New York Knicks, according to the Detroit Free Press' Omari Sankofa II.

"We’ve done it before with (Pascal) Siakam," Casey added, referring to his tenure as head coach of the Toronto Raptors from 2011-18. "We started him as a rookie.

"I don’t care how many mistakes (Hayes) makes, let’s not make the same one twice."

Siakam, the Raptors' 27th overall draft pick in 2017, started 38 of his 55 appearances as a rookie. The future All-Star averaged 4.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per night with an effective field goal rate of 50.5% in 15.6 minutes per game. Siakam was named the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2019 and was starting in the 2020 All-Star Game within a year.

For his part, the 6-foot-5 Hayes is no average NBA rookie. The 19-year-old was born in Lakeland, Florida, but he spent much of his childhood in France due to his father's overseas playing career.

While the vast majority of Americans in the 2020 draft class spent last year playing collegiate basketball stateside, Hayes was starring for Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany's Basketball Bundesliga and playing against men with significantly more professional experience. The NBA-bound phenom averaged 11.6 points, 5.3 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game.

The 2019-20 campaign was Hayes' third professional season overall after he also spent two years with French side Cholet Basket, debuting with the senior team as a 16-year-old in 2017.

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