For the second straight season, the Pistons have reached across the Atlantic Ocean for their first-round pick, selecting French teen guard Killian Hayes with the seventh pick in Troy Weaver’s first draft since being named Pistons general manager in June.
Taking Hayes in the first round means the Pistons have taken players from France in successive drafts. Sekou Doumbouya, the youngest player in the 2019 draft, was last year’s pick at 15. He and Hayes have played together on France’s junior national teams.
The first three picks went as expected – Anthony Edwards to Minnesota, James Wiseman to Golden State and LaMelo Ball to Charlotte. Chicago threw something of a curveball with the No. 4 pick, taking Florida State’s Patrick Williams, a player many mock drafts had landing with the Pistons.
Cleveland went with Auburn’s Isaac Okoro with the fifth pick and Atlanta chose Southern Cal big man Onyeka Okongwu with the sixth pick, leaving the Pistons with a creative playmaker with size to bolster their backcourt. With only Derrick Rose currently on the roster at point guard, Hayes gives the Pistons a long-term solution at a critical position.
Hayes, who turned 19 in late July, can play either on or off the ball and with his size should be able to defend all three perimeter positions. He’s considered a strong on-ball defender with a high basketball IQ. His best quality probably is his court vision and ability at 6-foot-5 to exploit passing angles.
Hayes was born in Florida when his father – DeRon Hayes, a three-year starter at Penn State in the early ’90s – was playing minor-league basketball there but moved to France when DeRon Hayes embarked on a lengthy career in European pro leagues. He began playing professionally as a 17-year-old in France and last year moved to Germany’s top league with Ulm, where he played point guard and solidified himself as a lottery prospect.
In 10 games with Ulm on the highly competitive EuroCup circuit, Hayes averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 assists in 27 minutes a game, shooting .455 overall, .390 from the 3-point arc and .909 from the free-throw line. Hayes was turnover prone, averaging 3.3 a game, but cut down on them as the season progressed in his first year as a full-time point guard.
We’ll have more on Hayes later with comments from him and Weaver.