Killian Hayes – The Ultimate Boom or Bust Pick in the 2020 NBA Draft

Today we are talking about elite prospect Killian Hayes. Standing at 6’5, the French point guard has one of the highest ceilings in the NBA Draft. As we currently stand, Killian Hayes is a lock for the lottery and possibly even the top 5. Who is Killian Hayes? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Which NBA teams are the best fits for Killian Hayes? Let’s break down his game.

Killian Hayes Fun Facts

  • Killian Hayes learned the game of basketball by watching YouTube videos of Dwayne Wade
  • Killian’s father, DeRon Hayes, played basketball at Penn State University during the early 1990s
  • He’s one of the youngest prospects in this draft class. Hayes doesn’t turn 19 years old until July
  • He’s a lefty. There aren’t enough lefties in the NBA. Period.

Killian Hayes was born in Lakeland, Florida. His father, DeRon Hayes, was a professional basketball player in the American Basketball Association before continuing his career in the LNB Pro A. Rather than go to college in the US, Killian stayed in France and grew up playing for Cholet Basketball at the youth level. Between 2016 and 2019, Hayes obtained significant experience playing in under-21 leagues where the majority of his competition were 6-7 years older than him. This is what immediately sticks out while watching tape of Killian Hayes. He may be 18 years old, but his game does not show it.

In August 2019, Killian signed a three-year contract with ratiopharm Ulm of the BBL and showed plenty of flashes. Most recently during 10 EuroCup games, Killian Hayes averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 assists per game. During this time, Hayes’ playmaking took center stage and he showed he has zero issues leading an offense as the primary ball handler. What are Hayes’ strengths and weaknesses? What are the best fits for his talents?

Strengths

  • Great size for the point guard position: At 6’5 and 215 pounds with a 6’9 wingspan, Killian Hayes has very good size for the point guard spot. Hayes’ size makes him a potential matchup nightmare for his position. Better yet, he drew one foul per every three shot attempts over the last three years. That is an excellent sign as Hayes knows how to get into the paint and take advantage of his body. Hayes’ size combined with his fluid scoring ability is what makes him such an intriguing prospect in the NBA Draft.
  • Phenomenal vision and handle: Killian Hayes’ bread and butter is his potential as a major playmaker and ball handler in the pick and roll. The lefty averaged 7.8 assists per 36 minutes last season and is a quick decision maker with the ball. Hayes thrives in the open court and his desire to push the pace makes him an excellent fit for the modern NBA. Hayes finished 3rd in the ECP last season in assists per game (6.2) and routinely finds his teammates in stride.
  • Very good touch around the rim: Hayes has a solid repertoire of runners and floaters that he uses when attacking the paint. Hayes’ offense thrives when attacking the basket but he could improve his ability to finish through contact. This is an area that Hayes needs to continue to develop in order to take advantage of the matchup problems his size could create at the next level. He’s a very good scorer off the dribble and has already shown rapid improvement in this area.

Weaknesses

  • Needs to improve his outside shooting: The good news? He’s very good from the free throw line. He shot 87.6% from the charity stripe on 2.7 attempts per 24.8 minutes per game. The bad news? He’s a work in progress from three-point range. Hayes shot 29.4% from 3 on 3.1 attempts per game last season. Over the last 3 seasons combined, he’s made 32 of his 117 three-point attempts (27.4%). This is clearly the biggest area Hayes must improve moving forward. He’s also taken way too many long 2’s for my liking. His spot up shooting and knack for the catch and shoot is not anywhere near good enough. However, he’s got very good mechanics and it’s his shooting that will determine just how high his ceiling can be.
  • Inconsistent defender: While Killian Hayes projects as a versatile defender with the potential to defend 1-3 in the NBA, he needs to improve his lateral quickness at the next level. It is important to note that Hayes did finish 10th in the ECP last season in steals per game (1.5). Over the last three years, Hayes averaged 1.7 steals per every 36 minutes and projects as a solid team defender in the NBA. He’s shown flashes but needs to show more focus on the defensive end and can get beaten by stronger and faster players on the perimeter. He projects as a solid team defender due to his ability to anticipate the passing lanes. However, it’s his on-ball defense that needs the most work.
  • Turnover prone: One of the biggest knocks on Killian Hayes is his lack of experience for the game. At such a young age, it’s hard to blame a kid playing in leagues against competition much older him. However, Hayes averaged 3.5 turnovers per every 36 minutes during the last three seasons. While he’s got very good IQ, he is known to force passes at times. While it may take some time, Hayes’ turnover issues will decrease once his confidence grows and the NBA game slows down for him.

Film Highlight

Killian Hayes is an elite playmaker with a very good handle. He’s often drawn comparisons to James Harden due to moves just like the one above. In no way am I comparing Killian Hayes to James Harden, but his size, playmaking ability and handle are exactly what gives him such a high ceiling as a prospect.
Never expect Killian Hayes to become a lockdown defender, but with a little time Killian Hayes should develop into a solid, versatile team defender in the NBA. His lateral quickness isn’t great and he can sometimes gamble too much on the perimeter. However, the ability to switch on defense and defend 1-3 at the next level is incredibly important in today’s NBA. This is an area where Killian Hayes should thrive. I see Hayes as an average to above-average defender.
What is easily noticeable is Hayes’ knack for scoring. Despite being 18 years old, his game is very mature and incredibly fluid.
Killian Hayes has some truly incredible footwork on offense and this is an area where it’s easy to tell that he’s put in a ton of work in the gym. What cannot be understated is his ability to get good looks. Killian Hayes will have zero issue finding his shot at the next level. Yes I agree that the defenses Hayes has faced aren’t exactly top notch but I don’t see that being an issue at the next level.
Despite the weak outside shot, Hayes gets by with fantastic touch and feel around the rim. He’s a good shooter off the dribble and has a soft touch.

Best Fits

Killian Hayes best fits include teams that are most willing to be patient with his development as a lead guard as he will certainly struggle with the speed of the NBA during his first year or two in the league. Here are my best fits for Killian Hayes in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons must take the best player available when they make their selection. Detroit currently has the 5th best odds to get the number one pick and it is easy to see that a playmaker like Killian Hayes would be a perfect fit. Even better, the Pistons are going to be bad for quite some time and they would have no problem to allow Hayes’ growing pains as he adjusts to the NBA. Detroit needs to groom a young floor general and all signs point to Killian Hayes being an ideal fit for their rebuild.

Charlotte Hornets

As we stand, the Charlotte Hornets have the 8th best chances at landing the number one pick. The Hornets quite simply need a star and have just started the rebuilding process. Personally, I’m not at all sold on Terry Rozier and Malik Monk’s future in Charlotte. A future back court of Devonte’ Graham and Kilian Hayes could be really, really interesting moving forward. If they stay around the 8th selection in the draft, Hayes would likely be highest graded player on their board when they make their pick.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns need a playmaker and are currently slotted for the 10th pick in the NBA Draft. The Suns would have to hope that Hayes falls into their lap, but the fit is definitely intriguing. Ricky Rubio is 29 and not getting any younger. A young core of Killian Hayes, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton would be pretty incredible. If the Suns miss out on LaMelo Ball, then Killian Hayes should be the pick.

You can find the rest of our draft evaluations below!

Make sure to follow @BlueRouteTPL, @mrcrockpot, @tscabbia, and @KrellTPL on Twitter for more Sixers and NBA draft coverage!