Killian Hayes, the French 6’5″ Point Guard, has had the microscope on him for his entire, young career. Hayes, the son of a collegiate basketball player, DeRon Hayes (Penn State University), has had the NBA as his goal since birth. Hayes was a well-known prospect among scouts and hardcore basketball fans in his early years, being named Co-MVP in the Jordan Brand International game at fifteen years old.
Hayes spent this last season playing for Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, averaging 12.8 points, 6.2 assists, and 2.3 rebounds in 24.5 minutes. Hayes, a leftie, has a distinct trait that most NBA players do not have. Often compared to another left-hander, D’Angelo Russell, Hayes is an enticing prospect, and one of the best point guards in the 2020 NBA Draft. Hayes, at nineteen years old, is a player who seems to be full of potential, and his ceiling could be as high as any in this draft.
What makes Hayes so interesting as a potential top 10 pick in this draft? At first glance, Hayes’ stats in the last year are not astoundingly impressive, they’re nothing to scoff at either. Hayes was eighteen years old averaging almost 13 points and 6 assists against professionals, with the competition level being much higher than an average NCAA game. Hayes’ game is exciting as a modern point guard, a shifty passer with finesse in his lefty handles that seems to come naturally. Hayes is a master of pace, similar to other top PG prospect, LaMelo Ball. Hayes’ ability to control the pace of an offense like a ball on a string is one of the strongest aspects of Hayes’ game. Often times Killian finds teammates in tough spots on the court, with excellent speed and precision, making his passing one of his best traits, only rivaled by Lamelo Ball and Deni Avdija’s passing in this year’s draft. Hayes’ also has the size to defend all guards, and switch over to defend wings occasionally. The 6’5″ frame with a 6’8″ wingspan, allows Hayes to have an advantage over smaller point guards, putting them at a disadvantage when guarding him. Killian is skilled at getting to the rim and finishing there as well. Hayes’ 3-point shooting is also impressive, shooting 39% from deep on the season. Hayes can shoot from deep behind the three-point line, and he does so at an efficient rate. Seeing how Hayes’ three-point shooting translates to the NBA will be critical in seeing what his NBA career will look like.
Where Hayes could improve significantly is his off-hand. As a left-handed player, oftentimes defenders struggle guarding the left, so Hayes has used that to his advantage. However, when Hayes has to use his off-hand (right hand), he struggles. Hayes averaged 3.3 turnovers per game last season, a result of the weak off-hand and wild passes. Hayes’ passes can and do, work out for him quite often, however it is also often that Hayes sends a questionable pass leading to a turnover. Though Hayes stands at 6’5″, he is not an incredibly athletic player in any regard. This is not to say Hayes does not possess any athleticism, but his athleticism is average for a person his size. Killian tends to lack a quick first step, lacking the overall lateral quickness possessed by other guards in the draft such as Kira Lewis. Hayes also does not attack the rim as much as he should. Hayes is a decent finisher at the rim, yet rarely uses this to his disposal in games. Hayes often time settles for average shots, instead of making the best play possible.
As far as player comparisons go, Hayes is not short of them. Often times Killian is compared to D’Angelo Russell, as both players share similar games and both being left-hand-dominant. The comparison with Russell is obvious, and for many, it’s the first thing you think of when watching Hayes’ film. If Hayes is able to live up to this comparison, his NBA career is going to be enthralling to watch. However, another comparison that doesn’t get as much attention is Denver’s, Jamal Murray. Murray is ambidextrous, sharing the use of the left hand in common with Hayes. Murray, also similar in frame to Killian Hayes, standing at 6’4″. Much like Hayes as well, there are many questions around Murray. His performance in the NBA Playoffs was nothing short of incredible, and in the Bubble, he was easily the best point guard. The question for Murray is if he can continue this, or if he just had a great playoff showing. If he does, Murray will establish himself as one of the league’s elite point guards. Hayes’ potential could be similar to the Jamal Murray we saw in the playoffs, a skilled passer, excellent there point shooter, with the killer instinct that front office’s and fans crave.
So, Hayes’ fit with the Pistons, how does he fit in with the current Pistons, and with the direction the front office appears to be heading in. The Pistons call it a, “restoring,” of the franchise. Others may call it a rebuild. The only moves the Pistons have made prior to the draft as of the writing of this article are trading third-year guard Bruce Brown to the Nets in exchange for Dzanan Musa and a 2021 second-round pick, and releasing second-year point guard Jordan Bone. The signs point to a hard rebuild, instead of a retooling. In either scenario, however, Hayes’ fit with the Pistons is immaculate. On the court, Hayes would have weapons at his disposal, having shooters like Svi Mykhaliluk and Luke Kennard to kick it out to, and having big men to feed in the post such as Christian Wood, Sekou Doumbouya, and Blake Griffin will let Hayes run the offense comfortably. If Hayes is able to be taken under the wing of veteran, Derrick Rose, it would do wonders in advancing Hayes’ game as a point guard. Rose and Hayes could also share time on the court with Hayes playing off-ball to his size, and ability to catch and shoot. Defensively there is something to work with for Coach Dwane Casey, who is a strong believer in defense. Often times throughout the beginning of last season, players like Sekou Doumbouya and Christian Wood would get pulled from games due to a lack of defensive effort. Hayes is already a respectable defender, and working with Casey will surely put even more of an emphasis on the defensive end. Off the court, Killian Hayes possesses the character GM Troy Weaver and Executive Ed Stefanski rave about, and at such a young age, this is definitely not going unnoticed by the Pistons front office. Hayes could be on the board when the Pistons are selecting seventh on Wednesday night, and what happens from there will solidify the Pistons’ direction for years to come.