Killian Hayes, the 6-foot-4 shot creator who spent the past two seasons playing in Germany, has drawn comparisons to James Harden and Manu Ginobili — and not just because they all are left-handed.
Watch Hayes whip the ball around the court to find open teammates for assists, finish running floaters at the rim or slide into step-back and sidestep moves to create space for open 3-pointers, and it’s easy to see why the comparisons were born.
The Chicago Bulls’ young roster features some talent but lacks a skilled passer to create shots and make the offense go. If adding a playmaker is a high priority for the Bulls heading into next season, then Hayes seems to fit the mold with the No. 4 pick.
In the lead-up to the 2020 NBA draft Wednesday, we’re examining the case for the Bulls to select a few prospects: from the Isreali wing Deni Avdija to the divisive guard LaMelo Ball.
Let’s take a look at the case for the Bulls to select Hayes at No. 4.
What he does well
Last week we outlined the reasons Ball would make a perfect fit for the Bulls, although they almost certainly would have to move up in the draft to select him. Hayes fits the same mold, and the Bulls likely won’t have to give up anything to get him. In fact, Hayes often has been positioned in direct contrast to Ball. Both players have been considered the top-two playmakers in the draft, but Hayes is said to be a lot more understated compared to the flashy Ball.
Hayes also plays like a natural facilitator with a good feel for the game in the pick-and-roll. It gives him the ability to create the best shot each time down the floor for himself or teammates. His arsenal of step-back and sidestep 3s to create space for his own shot have drawn the Harden comparison. As Hayes continues to develop, these weapons could become valuable to have in his arsenal.
Hayes also has good size for a guard and said he has gained about 15 pounds since the pandemic began in March. That should bode well defensively, where he is not polished but has shown an ability to disrupt passing lanes.
What he needs to improve
Hayes has the moves to create open shots and get to the basket, but questions remain about his athleticism and ability to finish.
He’s a bit left-hand dominant and lacks the burst of quickness to get by defenders, so he’ll need to overcome that through footwork. His 3-point shooting percentage has not always been strong — although he shot 39% on 5.5 attempts per game in an abbreviated season for the German club Ulm this year — but his shooting has improved as he has grown more comfortable at each level. He also has a good free-throw percentage, which usually bodes well for improvement in shooting.
Hayes, 19, played in an offense that was catered to him in Germany, and the ball was in his hands often. That won’t happen right away in the NBA, and he might need time to fully develop, so the Bulls or any team drafting him might need to be patient before he reaches his full potential.
What he offers the Bulls
The Bulls offense was unwatchable for large stretches of the 2019-20 season because they have limited options to create offense from the perimeter. Zach LaVine and Coby White can be fantastic scorers, but their primary strength is creating offense for themselves. Hayes would give those players space to focus on what they do well while helping to open opportunities for Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.
Mock drafts have a wide range of opinions on Hayes, with him going as high as No. 4 to the Bulls but also much lower in the top 10. If the Bulls decide he is their guy, they could also entertain offers to trade back in the draft, especially if Ball slides and another overzealous team leaps at the chance to grab him.
But even though the Bulls just drafted a point guard in White one year ago, new top executive Arturas Karnisovas has stated he is willing to go with the best player available regardless of fit. Hayes would be a welcome addition to a young Bulls core and has all the tools to fit in.
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