Killian Hayes is widely considered a top-ten prospect in an NBA Draft class filled with uncertainty. For all we know, he could be one of the first five players selected on draft night.
I do not like to solely focus on a prospect’s negatives, especially as young as Hayes. However, the ongoing talk of Hayes being a top prospect in this draft has gotten to me. Killian Hayes will not be anything close to a star in the NBA. I will argue that he will not even be a noteworthy role player on any team.
Hayes is a 19-year old point guard who has played in France and Germany the past three seasons. In the BBL (Basketball Bundesliga), Hayes held his own against subpar competition, averaging 12.8 points and 6.2 assists per game last season.
Hayes is often credited for his creativeness with the ball and his knack for scoring. However, a good portion of this must be attributed to the lack of competition that Hayes faced. He was often guarded by an inferior competitor and needed just a simple step-back move to get a shot off. Still, a player cannot be knocked just for competition alone, so let’s get into his skillset.
Drafting Hayes so early worries me because you are banking on him to miraculously develop an arsenal of scoring moves to use against an NBA-caliber defender.
Killian Hayes has no right hand. I will bring this up throughout the rest of my reasoning, as it is so important. NBA defenders will eat Hayes up when he routinely settles for driving left without even attempting to use his right hand.
At the rim, Hayes does not have an impressive finishing ability. He is not as consistent down low as LaMelo Ball or Cole Anthony is. So, he will have a tough time finishing amongst the trees, especially when they know how to try to score.
Combine this inability to switch hands with the fact that Hayes is not an elite athlete. Hayes will not be able to blow by his defender in a half-court set. With the defense prepared to defend his left hand, Hayes will be left with limited scoring options.
Scouts love Hayes because he “checks a lot of boxes.” Bravo scouts, you found a point guard with limited athleticism and a weak hand. At least he’s 6’5″! Hayes has an impressive frame and impressive handles, but those will not matter if he cannot get by his defender.
We see this happen all the time to high school standouts in their college careers. Recent prospects such as Jordan McCabe (West Virginia) and Isaiah Washington (Minnesota) were viral high school players due to their skills with the ball and their creativity. However, they have amounted to backup point guards at their respective universities because they cannot translate their handles to getting buckets against Power5 level defenders.
Some scouts say that Hayes is one of the most NBA-ready prospects in the class. How is that possible? He has played ten games in the past year, all against weaker competition than what Division I holds.
Hayes can knock down shots when open but will have much difficulty getting open. He shot 39% from three last season, which is indeed eye-opening. If he could build off of this, I may be wrong in claiming that he is overrated. But, his jump shot is very unorthodox, as he pushes the ball from shoulder height. His easy access step-back jumpers in France will be hard to come by in the NBA due to this.
Furthermore, Hayes is only an average defender. As a top ten pick, he will be asked to maintain an essential role on a team, especially on the defensive side. Is he ready to challenge some of the league’s top guards? I do not think so. When watching his film, his lateral quickness is often made up for by his length.
NBA point guards are much smarter than the ones Hayes previously matched up against. Loose balls will not be arrantly thrown in his direction, and Hayes will have to beat his man to the spot to get stops and turnovers.
Killian Hayes, while so young, has all the makings of a first-round bust. If he does not have access to driving to the left, he will become very uncomfortable.
I do not like to bash young players, as Hayes is still incredibly talented. However, the bold takes will start to come out. Hayes was a great playmaker in the BBL, but I do not envision him being able to make those same plays when Jamaal Murray is guarding him or even Monte Morris, for that matter. Additionally, it seems as though the Knicks are very interested in Hayes, which is a red flag in it of itself. How many prospects have the Knicks been right on in the past 20 seasons? Not many. This is just for some comic relief, but it is still something to consider.
Would I draft Hayes in the first round? Sure. If I were a playoff team drafting in the late teens or 20s, I would give Hayes a look. However, he is not a player I’d be willing to spend a top-ten pick on. Hayes has too many things going against him on the offensive end.
I cannot state with confidence that he will be a starting point guard in the league. If he is a top ten pick, do not be surprised when he does not bring back value to the club that selected him.