Warriors Draft Pick Tournament: #3 Killian Hayes vs #14 Kira Lewis Jr.
You make the call.
Which of These Two Prospects Would You Rather The Warriors Draft?
We’ll present scouting reports, and you can vote at the end of this post. For details on how these prospects were selected and seeded, see the master tournament post.
3. Killian Hayes
(Graphic from The Ringer)
Hayes is an American-born lead guard who was raised in France who spent this season playing professionally in Germany. The 18 year-old shared Most Valuable Player honors in the 2017 Jordan Brand Classic international game and was averaging 12.0 points and 5.6 assists for a German team before the season was suspended.
Hayes’ tenacity, natural playmaking skills, craft off the dribble and an improving jump shot continue to help him compensate for average athleticism. He continues to develop well ahead of his age curve, and the question is probably more about where his ceiling lies.
An unknown quantity for most American fans, Hayes is a French lefty who isn’t a knock-down shooter (29.4 percent from 3) but has an extremely high skill level in terms of being able to execute complex moves like step-backs, side steps and pull-ups out of pick-and-rolls.
Read several of those lines above and it sounds very reminiscent of D’Angelo Russell, but Hayes offers more on the defensive end. Although he’s not a super athlete, Hayes has decent lateral quickness and great anticipation, and has posted high rates of steals and blocks in a competitive league.
Playmaking is his best skill. Creative pick-and-roll facilitator. Fluid ball handler with the size to outmuscle smaller guards. Excellent touch with his left hand finishing difficult floaters and runners. Displays major potential as an off-the-dribble 3-point shooter with Hardenesque moves. His catch-and-shoot shooting numbers are concerning, but he has smooth form. A projectably versatile defender against guards and wings. Active off-ball menace.
Left-hand dominant: He might as well tie his right hand behind his back. Limited athlete who lacks burst and bounce. Lacks an advanced handle. Experiences lapses on defense. He needs to be more vocal as a lead guard to take better command of the team.
SHADES OF: D’Angelo Russell, Manu Ginobili
Developing tool in his arsenal: a James Harden-like stepback move that's near-impossible to defend
Below average 3-point shooter; improved in EuroCup play, but larger sample suggests it could be a swing skill
Hayes is a flat-out terrific passer out of ball-screens, and the coaches at Ulm this past season knew as much. To put this into perspective, Hayes played 33 games for Ulm this past season and, according to Synergy’s video logs, ended a possession by using a ball-screen 428 times. That’s an average of 13 ball-screens per game. He played 25 minutes per game. Do the math, and Hayes played out of a ball-screen once every two minutes for the course of an entire season, and that only counts the possessions where those actions resulted in a shot or a turnover.
What I do know is this: Hayes is a real talent and nobody else I’ve watched has impressed me as much per this upcoming draft. In a past recap, I wrote that I probably wouldn’t advise the Warriors, or anyone else really, to draft LaMelo Ball top 5. With the obvious caveat that these are mere guesses — educated guesses, but guesses nonetheless — I’m saying the opposite about Killian Hayes. In a theoretically weak draft, the skinny French kid could be a really strong choice.
And Ethan Strauss, “Talking with Killian Hayes’ trainer”:
On if playing off the ball, as the Warriors would require:
This past summer we worked on playing off-ball a little bit. His whole game plan for this summer will be to look at who’s going to be that top 10, top five and adjust his workout for what teams will be looking for. He will be more than prepared. Off-the-ball is a part of player development. The main thing we want to focus on is his shooting and trying to get his shot off 1-on-1 because it’s a 1-on-1 game in the NBA.
On if the Warriors draft him:
Him playing with Steph would be amazing.
14. Kira Lewis Jr.
(Graphic from Sports-Reference.com)
Lewis will still only be 19 years old on draft night even though he's played two seasons of college basketball. So he's young. And he's light. But the 6-3 point guard was really productive this season for an Alabama team that finished 60th at KenPom.
His extreme youth and blinding end-to-end speed are two factors working in his favor from a long-term perspective. He’s still figuring out how to consistently run a team and lead an offense in the halfcourt.
I’ve written about Lewis already, but he’s still a bit undervalued. The key here is his birth certificate – Lewis was the youngest sophomore in the nation in 2019-20, and was actually younger than several prominent freshman. Relative to the freshman class, he outperformed everybody.
Lewis has top-notch straight-line speed and he can shoot. His height and length are a plus for the point guard spot.
You want to see better reads from him in the pick-and-roll as he develops, although he was hindered in this respect by this team’s complete lack of lob and finishing targets (Every Alabama possession this season was a kickout 3. I’m only slightly exaggerating).
I see him as good enough to play backup minutes immediately with a relatively projectable path to being a starter due to his speed/shooting combo.
SHADES OF: Darius Garland, Lou Williams, Ish Smith
Smooth stroke with bouts of streakiness, but his form, free throw percentage, and shot selection are all positive long-term indicators.
Agile on-ball defender who moves well laterally and fights through screens; but he needs to get a lot stronger to contain bigger guards.
Active off-ball defender who does a good job helping, digging, and getting in passing lanes without taking too many risks.
Drives recklessly. A good-but-not-great playmaker. Shows a willingness to draw contact, but needs to improve at finishing off-balance shots with touch. Not a switchable defender due to his size: He’s incredibly light, and lacks a frame to support much more weight.
the fastest and most underrated point guard in this draft
He put up huge numbers for an Alabama team that is built to run, run, run and shoot nothing but threes and layups. He also shot 37 percent from three for the second consecutive season. He’s slender, he’s turnover prone and part of the reason he produced as much as he did this season was because of the pace that Alabama played at.
Ethan Strauss and Evan Zamir, The Athletic:
Evan: He’s got 18 blocks on the season. I crunched some numbers and found that he leads the nation in blocks among freshmen and sophomores 6-3 or under. To get those kinds of numbers without explosive vertical athleticism, it suggests elite instincts and/or timing and, additionally, he is probably going to measure with a fairly good wingspan/reach for his height.
Ethan: I haven’t sorted out my point guard rankings (French player Killian Hayes is likely at the top), but Lewis is up there, especially since some of the PGs haven’t lived up to their early season hype.
Vote on Twitter or post a comment clearly supporting one or the other. Comment votes count ten times more than Twitter votes.