2019-20 Stats: 11.6 PPG; 5.4 APG; 2.8 RPG; 48.2 FG%; 29.4 3FG%; 58.5 True Shooting %; 1.68 Assist-Turnover Ratio
Killian Hayes, the son of former European professional DeRon Hayes, already has a few years of professional basketball experience under his belt himself.
At just 19 years of age – and remaining that age through the entire 2020-21 season – he is one of the youngest prospects coming out of the 2020 NBA Draft. However, he has already played professionally in arguably the third-best professional league in the world, the Euro Cup.
Hayes improved from his first two professional seasons as he became the primary ball-handler for Ratiopharm Ulm. I believe the 19-year-old guard fits perfectly within the Bulls organization, is significantly underrated by many draft boards, and will be the best player coming out of this draft.
Why do I think this? Why should the Bulls draft Hayes and how will he specifically help the Bulls as their primary ball-handler for the next decade? The answers to these questions and more below.
Hayes has been playing professional basketball since he was 16 years old. His dad played professionally in Europe for many years. Hayes has been in and around professional locker rooms since he was five and he understands what it takes to be a professional, both on and off the court. Not many draft prospects can say that.
Hayes’ biggest strength is his passing. He is elite at this fundamental skill. His left-handed whip, lob, and bounce passes are accurate and effective, leading to high quality shots for his teammates, especially around the three point line. He does take risks with the ball, which have led to a few high turnover games. If he can cut these down, he can be the top passer in the NBA.
Furthermore, the combination of that elite passing and improved shot versatility gives Hayes the potential of being one of the biggest offensive dual threats in the NBA. Two years ago he shot 31.4 FG% / 33.3% aFG% in shots off the dribble. Last year that split improved to 41.1 FG% / 52.1 aFG%.
Hayes’ effectiveness off the pick and roll becomes even more apparent when looking at these stats. If defenders are unsure if Hayes will pass the ball or shoot – which he has proven he can do off the dribble – teams will have a difficult time determining the best strategy for defending Hayes when he has the ball, and he has the ball a lot.
The most glaring flaw in Hayes’ game is the fact he over-relies on his left hand. He does this in all aspects of his game. He doesn’t really use his right hand to pass the ball, which can help defenses better guard him, and he struggles to ever use the right hand at, or around, the rim. This has affected his turnover numbers and finishing ability, the latter maybe being a reason why he settles for jump shots more often than not (61% of all shots are jumpers).
His assist-turnover ratio was 1.68 last year, far from elite. His lack of a right hand and his general risk-taking on the court have led to more turnovers than you may want to see, something he will certainly need to improve on.
Lastly, Hayes’ three-point shooting is certainaly a part of his game that needs to improved. He shot below 30% from beyond the arc during last season’s Euro Cup competition.
However, he did shoot over 56% from shots between 17 feet and the three point line, which ranks in the 94th percentile of all guards. He can shoot, he just needs to expand his range a bit to have a true combo guard skill set.
Does Hayes Fit the Bulls Scheme?
Killian Hayes is the best fit for the Bulls out of any prospect in this year’s draft. Period. He perfectly complements Coby White, as White is better at shooting while Hayes is better at passing, and both can play the 1 or 2 guard spot, especially if Hayes can improve his shooting.
The Bulls’ primary need is a ball-handler. Hayes is that and more. He will have the ball in his hands the most and he has proven he can put his teammates in positions to better score. This will allow White, Lauri Markkanen, and Zach LaVine to focus on putting the ball in the net.
Should the Bulls Draft Him?
Yes. That’s it.
But in all seriousness, if you couldn’t tell already, I love Killian Hayes. He’s the best fit for this Bulls team and will be the best player to come out of this draft.
Will the Bulls Draft Him?
I’m holding out onto some hope but I truly don’t think we’ll see Hayes in a Bulls uniform next year. I’m unsure if the Bulls rate Hayes as high as I do. They probably don’t and if they stay with the 4th pick, they won’t select Hayes.
I can see Ball, Deni Avdija, Isaac Okoro, and even Patrick Williams being higher on the Bulls’ board than the French point guard.
There is a possibility of trading down, collecting an asset, and then selecting Hayes but as time goes on, I think that is less likely to happen. I don’t see Hayes going past Detroit at #7 and Atlanta doesn’t seem to want to trade their pick at six. Therefore, the Bulls would have to select Hayes at #4 and I don’t see that happening.
I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t foresee Hayes playing at the United Center this season.
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