Hawks Draft Targets: Killian Hayes

429021 killian hayes

With the NBA Draft less than 2 weeks away, now is a good time to look at who the Hawks should be keeping tabs on with their first pick at #6.

There has been plenty of speculation that the Hawks might be willing to trade #6 as part of a package to add more experience to the young team, but we have to assume they will stay put until that happens.

For these draft targets, we will take a look at their strengths, weaknesses, and team fit. First up is Killian Hayes.

Strengths

  • Playmaking: Hayes is a dynamic playmaker who is dangerous in the open court and half-court at making plays and whipping left-hand passes to open shooters. Hayes is creative in the pick and roll and is adept at creating ideal passing angles for cutters and spot-up shooters. He is only 18 years old, and his playmaking ability is well beyond his years.
  • Dynamic Finisher: When he gets in the paint, Hayes is excellent at finishing with layups, floaters, and off the dribble jump shots. He has a great feel in the paint, often initiating contact and finishing through it.
  • Defensive Awareness: Hayes is a very active on-ball and off-ball defender. Given his long frame standing at 6’5 with a 6’8.25 wingspan, he has the potential to be one of the best guard/wing defenders in the NBA. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for with basketball IQ and defensive effort.

Weaknesses

  • Athleticism: Hayes does not possess a quick first step and first bounce with the ball in his hands. Quick defenders will give him problems, and this limits his ability to finish at the rim in some cases. I am curious to see how the length of NBA defenders impacts his finishing ability.
  • Left Hand Dominate: Hayes rarely, if ever, uses his right hand to finish or make passes. He is a left-hand dominant guard who, if he doesn’t get comfortable with his right hand, will have a really hard time producing on offense because defenses will exploit that weakness.
  • 3-Point Shooting: Hayes has a solid and fluid shooting stroke, and I believe he will eventually figure it out. His catch and shoot percentages while playing in France leave much to be desired.

Team Fit

Everyone knows the Hawks offense revolves around ball-dominant guard Trae Young and that is not going to change. Killian Hayes, while being a point guard in France, could easily make the transition to a more off-ball role alongside Young.

More importantly, Hayes has great defensive potential, which the Hawks desperately need going forward. Trae Young is one of the worst defenders in the NBA, and Hayes — with his long wingspan — can defend the opposing teams’ best guard and hide Trae Young more on defense.

The Hawks can also use a secondary playmaker to take some of the load off Young and put him in more interesting situations on offense. The best-case scenario for the Hawks and Killian Hayes would be a Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum-like duo. Trae Young is the star, and Hayes becomes a secondary scorer and playmaker.

Kevin O’ Connor at the Ringer has Hayes ranked as his #1 overall prospect this year, and he is expected to be taken in the middle of the lottery. I think he would be a great fit for the Hawks next to Trae Young.

Photo: Nordphoto/Imago/Icon Sportswire

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