We’ve reached the point in the season when we should have a pretty good idea of who will be the number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Most years, its’ set-in stone pretty early. This year, however, it’s been quite the contrary. As the season has progressed, everything has just become foggier. Nobody knows who’s going number one in June.
Still, when you peruse Google, or scroll through Twitter and Instagram, it’s the same few guys that find themselves at the top of every mock draft and big board. If it’s not Anthony Edwards, it’s James Wiseman, and if it’s not Wiseman, it’s LaMelo Ball. However, none of the guys I just mentioned have been trending upwards lately.
Wiseman played in three games, and now he’s already decided to end his collegiate career and completely focus on preparing for the draft. There is no justification for anyone to put James Wiseman at number one on their board. His lack of both feel and awareness on both ends of the floor is concerning, His defensive footwork is not too hot either. In Wiseman’s three games, these issues were apparent – despite his fantastic statistics.
LaMelo Ball is a prospect that I really like. His combination of size and court vision is really intriguing. He currently sits at number two on my board. Though, his recent foot injury does scare me a little bit. Ball is also extremely shot-happy at times, and his effort on the defensive end is inconsistent. And like Wiseman, he barely played any games before it was announced that he would miss the remainder of the season.
Anthony Edwards is probably the guy I see slotted at number one more than anyone. On paper, Edwards seems like a future star, and there’s times when he looks amazing. Yet I just haven’t been all that impressed with him. He settles for a lot of bad jump shots, he’s a ball stopper on offense, and loses focus on defense.
I guess Cole Anthony deserves a special shout out here too. If he comes back firing from his injury, he can get back into the number one pick discussion. But he was definitely struggling in the games prior to his injury.
Will one of those guys be the top selection in June? Probably. But, we need to throw another name into the ring: Killian Hayes.
Killian Hayes is an 18-year old French guard currently playing in the German Bundesliga (BBL) for Ratiopharm Ulm. The BBL is easily one of the top leagues in the world. Ex-NBA players like Zoran (brother of Goran) Dragic, Greg Monroe, Michael Gbinije, and Paul Zipser all compete in the BBL. A few excellent former college players are in the BBL too, in Dylan Osetkowski, Nick Weiler-Babb, and Cameron Wells. Killian Hayes has played against higher competition than anyone else is this class.
Hayes has been extremely productive for Ulm. He’s averaging 10 points and 4 assists in league play, and 13 points and 6 assists in Euro Cup action.
Hayes has the perfect physical makeup for a point guard. He’s 6’5”, 200 lbs., and has a 6’9” wingspan. He isn’t going to blow your socks off with his speed or vertical leap, but he’s a solid athlete.
Offensively, Hayes is a high IQ player with fantastic court vision. He finds open teammates well and has the ability to make difficult passes. The game comes naturally to him.
Hayes excels as a Pick and Roll ball handler, and usually makes the right decisions. Everyone knows that the Pick and Roll is the NBA’s bread and butter. It’s also Hayes’ bread and butter.
Hayes isn’t a knockdown three-point shooter, but he has a lot of potential in that area. In German Cup play, he’s averaging 1.6 threes per game on 39% shooting, but in the BBL, his stats plummet to 0.6 threes per game on 26% shooting. Regardless, Free Throw percentage is a strong indicator of a player’s potential as an outside shooter, and Hayes has shot 85% from the charity stripe this year. There’s no question that he has a good scoring touch.
He has the measurables to become an above average NBA defender, and he’s shown peskiness this season. He’s averaging 1.75 steals per 36 minutes, which isn’t too bad at all. His lack of defensive intensity was seen by many as a weakness during the preseason, but he’s really progressing in the right direction.
Obviously, he’s not a perfect player. Turnovers and questionable shots have been an issue, and he still needs to work on his long-range jumper.
The reason why Hayes is the number one player on my board is simple: There are way too many question marks surrounding the other top prospects. Hayes seems like a safe bet to me, yet he still has All-Star type upside.
Will Killian Hayes be the number one pick in June? Probably not. Who knows, maybe he falls from the top spot on my board in a month. Still, this class lacks a number one prospect, and as of today, Hayes feels like the closest thing to one.
(P/C: Bleacher Report)