| Detroit Free Press
Five top prospects in 2020 NBA draft who could help Detroit Pistons
Five top prospects in the 2020 NBA draft who could help the talent-depleted Detroit Pistons.
Both Hayes and Doumbouya were raised in France and began their professional careers with French basketball teams. They’re similar ages — Doumbouya was born in December 2000, while Hayes was born seven months later in July 2001. They attended many of the same basketball camps while establishing their careers.
The Pistons have the seventh pick in this year’s draft, and Hayes said his draft range is anywhere from the second overall pick to the 10th. He addressed reporters Monday via Zoom during the NBA’s virtual draft combine, and he made it clear that he’d love teaming up with Doumbouya.
“I feel like coming in with him, it would be an easier adjustment because since I know him and he knows the city of Detroit, he knows how it goes,” Hayes said. “Coming in, I would feel comfortable right away. Playing with him, I feel like it would be fun. Sekou’s a great guy, I love Sekou. He’s one of my guys, so I feel like that would be cool.”
That’s certainly good news for the Pistons, who need a young point guard who can stabilize the position longterm. Hayes is one of the highest-graded guards in the draft, and at least one draft analyst believes he’s the best overall prospect regardless of position.
Doumbouya isn’t Hayes’ only connection to Detroit. Last summer he began training with former Detroit Piston Will Bynum, who he met through Pistons great Joe Dumars. Their workouts came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Hayes said he and Bynum are going to get back in the gym next week.
“I’m just looking forward to having Will back,” Hayes said. “He’s just teaching me the game. He was in the league for a long time, especially in Detroit. Just trying to learn as much as possible from his experience in the NBA.”
Hayes said he hasn’t played five-on-five basketball since March when the pandemic cut his season with German-based team Ratiopharm Ulm short. But the 6-foot-5 guard has been hard at work improving his game in the months since and said he has taken advantage of the extra time.
His playmaking and versatility as a defender stood out last season, but he’s still developing as a shooter and ball-handler. When addressing his strengths and weaknesses, he listed comfort with his left hand, ability to score at all three levels and court vision as strengths before acknowledging that he could be more aware defensively and improve his shooting percentages.
He’s also been working to add more size to his frame. He has above-average height for a lead guard, but would benefit from adding more muscle.
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“I’m just working on everything, especially my body because everyone knows the NBA got the best athletes in the world, so coming in physically ready,” he said. “And working on every part of my game. I know this season I was on the ball a lot, so I’m working a lot on coming off screens, coming off (dribble hand-offs), things like that.”
Hayes added that he’s been rounding out his shooting guard skill set, working to get better at spot-up shooting and moving off of the ball. He has the size to play both positions. But he solidified himself as a true point guard this past season and is eager to show his next team that he’s better now than he was back in March.
“The player that I was back in March is not the same player I am today,” Hayes said. “I’ve really leveled up a lot.”