Our sibling sites across SB Nation completed their annual NBA Blogger Mock Draft this week. We couldn’t make any trades, and instead had to wait for the first three picks to be selected and assess my options.
The first three selections were the ones most expect in this range: Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, and LaMelo Ball. If Ball and Edwards were on the board at No. 4, I would have taken either one.
In terms of the draft strategy, I tried to employ the one which Arturas Karnisovas hinted that his Bulls would do on lottery night, simply going with the best player available. But I did also factor roster fit into the equation, and thus avoided big men.
After some consideration of taking guys like Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, Devin Vassell, and Isaac Okoro, I decided to draft point guard Killian Hayes.
Chicago’s roster has young talent but still needs a lot of work. While Zach LaVine and Coby White surely can score, the Bulls are still looking for a prospect who can get others involved as well. Hayes can be that type of player.
Although he only played ten games for German club Ratiopharm Ulm, his stats looked decent: 17.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, plus shot 39 percent from deep on 5.5 attempts per 36 minutes. At 6’4” and a 6’8” wingspan, Hayes has good size for a point guard and defensively can get his hands in passing lanes. And it doesn’t appear that his size will hinder his ability to stay in front of other guards, and it benefits him when switching.
But Hayes’s bread and butter is on offense. Hayes is one of the best passers in this draft class and has superb court vision, something none of the guards that the Bulls currently have on their roster have to that level. His playmaking would be a big boost to the offense, certainly aiding three-point shooters like Lauri Markkanen.
Killian Hayes drives, surveys the floor and turns to fire a bullet to the top of the key. Great court awareness as a passer pic.twitter.com/xZswrNWQzH— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) April 3, 2020
Hayes’s presence would even help LaVine and White as Hayes could take some pressure off both as an offensive creator. Although Hayes shot only 45.5 percent from the field last season, he can get to the rim and make tough finishes even if defenders are there.
Killian Hayes hang sets up screen usage, loses defender with sharp change of direction, soft touch finish pic.twitter.com/qJsxykROE7— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) August 21, 2020
As shown above, Hayes can swerve in a flash and get by defenders with ease. Below, he shows that followed by a pull-up jumper.
Killian Hayes hang dribble and crossover to create space, drills the pull-up jumper. Whew. pic.twitter.com/4ar08uvF0l— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) April 4, 2020
Overall, having Hayes would open a lot of potential for Chicago’s offense. There are some solid individual offensive players on the team but they need someone to be the lead guy. Hayes has the potential to be just that. His scoring will force teams to pay attention to him on drives and when he gets into the lane. It will open up scoring opportunities for others and when other guys are getting easier shots, the offense flows a lot better.
However, there are flaws that he needs to improve in his game as well. Hayes had the ball in his hands a lot in Europe which may not always be the case in the NBA. So it’s on him to prove he can be productive off the ball as well. He also needs to become a better decision-maker and make fewer risky passes, as he averaged 4.4 turnovers per 36 minutes last season. Sometimes the safer play is the right decision and he will have to learn how to take care of the ball better in the NBA.
Hayes is just 19 and there will be growing pains. However, there is a lot of upside with this pick. He showed in Germany last year that he has the potential to be a solid player in the NBA. The Bulls have more than just one pressing need in this draft, and need to acquire as much talent as they can get at the moment. Hayes was the best player on the board at number four and his fit with Chicago made it an even easier selection.