The Detroit Pistons stayed put at No. 7 in the 2020 NBA Draft and selected French point guard Killian Hayes. The 6-foot-5 point guard is not the ultimate athlete, but he possess natural playmaking instincts and can set the pace of a game and get a team into the offense.
The news was first reported by Omari Sankofa of The Detroit Free Press.
Yes, he’s left hand dominant. I’ve heard it a thousand times. But he’s also just a shade over 19 years old and has already established that he belongs as a professional in the French league.
His offense looks projectable, with a smooth stroke and converts extremly well at the free-throw line at 87.6%. The Pistons obviously have reasonable confidence in his ability to continue developing as a shotmaker and become dangerous from 3. That combined with playmaking and defensive versatility make him the obvious choice for the point-guard and playmaking needing Pistons.
Detroit is not done in the first round, however. The Pistons also possess the No. 16 overall pick. From there, they could draft a two-way forward like Saddiq Bey or Aaron Nesmith or the ultimate draft mystery man like Aleksej Pokusevski.
For a deeper look at Hayes, you can do no better than take in every single word of Laz’s chance deep dive from all the way back in May when the dean of Pistons Twitter flagged Hayes as a top prospect and player to watch.
Here’s just a morsel of a very filling, and informative meal:
And although he’s often knocked for his athleticism, Hayes is a functional basketball athlete. Is he going to compete in a dunk contest? Absolutely not. Can he get all the way to the rim in pick-and-roll situations in the halfcourt? Yes. Can he finish in transition? Yes (see above). Can he stay with his man on defense? Yes (see above).
On a per-game basis, Hayes put up 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 3.2 turnovers, slashing 48/29/87 in 25 minutes a night (second on the team in minutes per game) over 33 games in EuroCup and German Basketball Bundesliga. Hayes can score at all three levels - at the rim, in the midrange, and from three - and has great touch, which shows itself on floaters and on midrange pullups:
And Jackson’s bottom line:
Hayes has elite positional size (not a lot of 6’5 true point guards in the NBA). He has a pre-packaged elite skill - his passing. He improved statistically year-over-year and in-season (see: the decline in turnovers) in Europe - growth that wasn’t a given, since the level of competition he faced also improved - and there’s little reason to believe that his growth won’t continue in the NBA given his age.
And, despite his pro-readiness, he is not a finished product. The turnovers will continue to lessen, he’ll work on his playmaking and finishing with his non-dominant hand, he’ll improve as a shooter. You look at his body, and although he has a strong core, there are strength improvements he can make in his lower half - there’s untapped athletic potential there. By all accounts, he’s the type of player willing to work and make improvements.
Read the whole thing for a film breakdown, an honest look at his shortcomings (read: turnovers, top-end athleticism) and more.
Then start planning for what Detroit is going to do at No. 16.