Detroit Pistons should pick Killian Hayes. NBA agent turned draft expert explains why

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

As the 2020 NBA draft draws closer, consistency is beginning to emerge among draft analysts on who the best prospects within the lottery (top 14) are. 

With the seventh overall pick, the Detroit Pistons are outside of what many analysts would consider the first tier of talent in the draft. But as general manager Troy Weaver said after the lottery, the Pistons will be able to find a core player with the pick. 

That player could be French point guard Killian Hayes, one of the more popular Pistons picks in mock drafts (including our own).

Matt Babcock, a former NBA agent and founder of NBA draft website, favors Hayes for the Pistons. Babcock also likes Isaac Okoro, a wing who played for Auburn, as a fit for Detroit. 

The Free Press talked to Babcock about Hayes and Okoro, the Pistons’ potential draft strategy and who else in the draft could make an impact for Detroit. Read Babcock’s entire mock draft

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Note: Questions and answers have been edited for clarity. Questions from Omari Sankofa II have been bolded. 

►In your latest mock draft, you have the Pistons taking Killian Hayes. There’s a gap between Hayes, Tyrese Haliburton, R.J. Hampton and the next crop of point guards including Kira Lewis Jr. What separates Hayes from the rest? 

I think with Detroit, they’re such a developing team right now. They could address a number of different areas. Point guard is definitely one of them that they could look to address. With Killian, Kira Lewis, Haliburton and RJ, I actually don’t think there’s that big a difference. As far as the difference with our mock draft, I think it’s circumstantial. I would probably put them in the same grouping as far as market value.

If we update our mock draft, I’m actually leaning towards Detroit taking Isaac Okoro. With the Pistons, they’re somewhat of a blank slate. They’ve got some nice young pieces with (Luke) Kennard and (Sekou) Doumbouya, but they can go a number of different directions and I would actually have Okoro as the next-best guy with how this mock draft shook out. 

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►What makes Killian Hayes the right pick for Detroit at No. 7?

He’s got great size for a point guard. He’s 6-5, a lefty and he’s really developed this past year. I went to go see him in France last season, and he was on a team with a bunch of other guys who were combo guards, point guards and he was lost in the shuffle a little bit. His agent moved him to a team in Germany this year and he’s able to run the show. He really thrived. He really developed his court vision, his playmaking ability and his outside shooting and shot creation have really taken leaps as well. I think he’s a guy that could end up being sort of a lead playmaker, primary ball-handler and somewhat of a dynamic player.

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►Okoro is similar to some of the players the Oklahoma City Thunder selected while Troy Weaver was there — athletic, skilled and defense-minded, but needs to develop his jump shot. What stands out about him to you? 

You definitely can’t bring up Isaac Okoro’s name without mentioning his athleticism. He’s probably overall the best athlete in the draft. He’s built like an NFL linebacker. He’s so athletic, he defends everybody, really plays hard and knows how to play. I think the biggest thing for him is if he’s able to develop his outside shooting. If we’re talking about upside, the kid’s got a lot of it. I think athleticism and just his physical profile alone gives him a good amount of upside.

►Why are you bigger on Kira Lewis Jr. compared to many other draft analysts?

That first grouping of point guards, I think there’s five or so that are in that group, they’re all so different. It’s a preference-type thing. Kira Lewis, he’s got elite speed and he shoots the ball well. That combination should translate to the NBA pretty well. One guy that he reminds me of a little bit is Darren Collison. I don’t know if the kid’s going to be a superstar, but just with his speed and shooting ability I think he fits the NBA game pretty well right now. I think he’s at least going to be a good player, if not a really good one. 

►It seems like we’re getting clearer tiers as we get closer to the draft, with that first tier being Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman and maybe two other players. Pistons fans were disappointed to fall to No. 7, from the fifth-best odds. Do you see a big separation in talent from the top tier of the draft and the rest of the lottery? 

My first tier is actually six guys, and it’s all pretty close. It’s just that all of them are a little bit different. But I think the market values are pretty close, it just sort of depends on which teams you’re looking at for each guy. The first grouping, and not necessarily in this order, would be Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball, Obi Toppin, Deni Avdija and Onyeka Okongwu. Like I said, I think there’s a lot of parity. A lot of it just depends on which team it is. Some guys, if I were to do a big board, it would be totally different for one team than it is for the next.

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►If the Pistons were to move up in the draft, who in that tier would fit them best? 

They’re in such a situation where it’s somewhat of a clean slate, they can go in a number of different directions. I can see Anthony Edwards being a guy that would make sense for them, primetime scorer. Or go with an athletic big guy like James Wiseman, or if you’re getting a point guard, LaMelo Ball. If they had an opportunity to move up, they could look at any of those six and theoretically make it work.

►I’m not sure if there are any sleepers in this draft, given that teams have had plenty of extra time to watch film, but who are some guys you think aren’t getting a fair shake?

There’s a handful of guys, and I think it’s more of not enough attention in the media. I think behind closed doors for NBA teams, like you said, they’ve done their homework. We’ve had an eternity to break down this draft. A few names that come to mind that I don’t think are getting quite enough love publicly, Isaiah Stewart from Washington, I think he’s one guy. The kid is just such a brute, 6-9, 250, just tough kid, great kid, a kid with high character. A couple other guys — Malachi Flynn from San Diego State at point guard, Elijah Hughes from Syracuse and Jalen Harris from Nevada. I think all of those guys are somewhat hidden in plain sight right now.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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