The NBA Draft is not for another six months, but I am still here today to discuss who should be considered for a top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Anthony Edwards has made a strong claim early on because of his play at Georgia, but I am here to talk about someone else. This player should be considered for the first overall pick in June, but isn’t nearly getting enough consideration. That player is Killian Hayes.
You may remember Killian Hayes from David Gardner of Bleacher Report’s excellent piece on him before the year. He spoke about Hayes’s family and how he got to where he is today in France. From David we got to know a little about Killian, now let’s learn about his game on the court.
Killian Hayes is just 18 years old and won’t hit 19 until after the draft. Playing for Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany has benefited Hayes in so many ways.
First off, he is playing alongside Zoran Dragic in the backcourt. Zoran, brother of current Miami Heat guard Goran, played in the NBA for a few seasons about five years ago and has been jumping around in Europe ever since. Now, he seems happy on this team playing alongside Hayes as he is averaging a career high in points this year in all competitions (17.1 points per game as of now). Zoran has undoubtedly made things easier for Killian and has supplied him with a good feeling of what an NBA backcourt mate can do for him at the next level.
Another advantage we’ve seen Killian Hayes gain from playing overseas is the fact that he is doing all of the little things whereas many touted prospects in the states are not. He is a guard boxing out his man on the three point line, he is forced to play man and fight over screens from grown men, and I could go on. We often talk about good fundamentals as something that players take away from playing hoops internationally and I think that’s even understating it for Killian.
Killian Hayes is already a dynamic basketball player despite being just 18. He is willing to take anyone off of the dribble. He isn’t the most explosive player and doesn’t have the quickest first step, but has a smooth game not unlike D’Angelo Russell.
Having a deep bag does not directly attribute to success at the next level. It certainly helps in creating space and opportunities for a player, but you still need to be able to convert. Killian Hayes has shown the capability of doing both.
Killian is so light on his feet. His step-back is of the James Harden/Luka Doncic variety where it looks like a travel, but is rightfully rarely called because he only takes two steps after the gather. The quick crossovers and tight handle that Killian brings make up for that lack of an elite first step.
The ball is quite literally kept on a string when in Hayes’s hands.
That’s not to say that the quick first step won’t come. He’s very young and will get stronger and faster as he develops in the NBA.
His passing acumen is spectacular. Killian never forces a cross court pass when a defender can possibly cut off the passing lane. He always makes strong and direct passes to his teammates and will make the extra pass every single time. Hayes makes some great plays out of the pick and roll as well. Killian shows the patience and intelligence needed from an initiator when he gets into the lane. He doesn’t play at a blistering pace and is the first player to try to get the team to slow down when appropriate.
There are still plenty of things we need to figure out about Killian Hayes before I officially claim him as the top prospect in the draft. From the games I’ve seen from him, his finishing has not been up to par, he has to become more comfortable playing off of the ball, and he absolutely needs to be more aggressive. So, why do I believe he should be considered for the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft?
It is because of the field and the potential.
As I had mentioned earlier, Anthony Edwards is one of the top prospects in the NBA Draft. Alongside him is Cole Anthony, Tyrese Maxey, Deni Avdija, LaMelo Ball, and James Wiseman as players who have received strong consideration for that top pick. But, Edwards has been inconsistent, Wiseman had the suspension and then left college, both Cole and LaMelo have injuries, Avdija hasn’t been too impressive, and Maxey has struggled to hit his shots from deep.
Killian Hayes may not be the top pick but as of right now, none of these top prospects are playing as well as him. His play in the Eurocup for Ratiopharm Ulm was fantastic and if he continues to play as well as he has lately, it’ll be time for the top teams in the draft to start considering him for the top pick. He has untapped potential that could very well turn him into a superstar in the NBA if he is brought into the right system.
Many people are claiming this to be a very poor draft, but if Killian Hayes can reach his potential, he’ll make this draft worth it.