OKC Thunder: Draft prospect Killian Hayes youthful dream on the precipice

One draft prospect unlikely to be among OKC Thunder targets is Killian Hayes who impressed in his zoom media session.

The OKC Thunder front office are unlikely to reach out to Killian Hayes as he’s pegged to be selected very early in the lottery portion of the NBA Draft. The point guard played two years with the French team – Cholet (nine and 33 games respectively).

This past season he played with the German team Ratiopharm Ulm where he felt he grew because he was allowed to make mistakes and stay on the court. He only played 10 games with the German team but feels he has made big improvements since March.

As part of the NBA Draft Combine process, the initial phase of media interviews occurred with some of the prospects. Hayes’ zoom video media session can be viewed on NBA.com in its entirety.

Highlights from Killian Hayes media session:

Unless OKC Thunder head man Sam Presti is keen to add another tall combo guard with a predilection for the point in his replenish and reposition era it’s unlikely Killian Hayes will be on the interview docket.

Should that position change it would take some maneuvering since the left-handed guard is expected to be selected in the lottery with the potential to go as high as second as per the youngster’s zoom media session.

Teams Hayes confirmed speaking with and NBA ties:

The 19-year old confirmed he’s interviewed with the Spurs, Knicks, Wizards, Warriors, and Bulls. He likes the fit with Bulls with their two scoring guards Coby White and Zach LaVine and big man Lauri Markkanen. He also noted former OKC Thunder coach Billy Donovan and how he believes the Bulls are team poised to take a step.

When asked if he knows where he’ll go in the draft Hayes said his agent has indicated he’ll be selected somewhere between second and tenth.

The youngster has existing relationships with current NBA players such as Knicks Frank Ntilikina and the Pistons Sekou Doumbaya. Hayes also played with Goran Dragic’s brother Zoran so is very familiar with the siblings.

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Perceived strengths and areas of focus during the pre-draft process:

The youngster grew up in Europe and played internationally. His two seasons playing with Cholet found him primarily functioning as the shooting guard. The youngster noted he much preferred this past season with his German squad Ratiopharm Ulm. That’s because he played at the point as the main facilitator, and more importantly, was allowed to make mistakes without being yanked off the court stating he has become more consistent from deep and his court vision with a view to reading the game has improved.

Asked to provide his strengths that will transfer to the NBA Hayes noted moving to his left (not surprising since he rarely uses his weak right hand or makes moves in that direction) and scoring at all three areas of the court.

The areas the guard has worked on during the pre-draft process is limiting his turnovers, working off the ball, his body, and defense. Several times the youngster brought up size and strength in the NBA stating how important it is to gain strength to face what he calls the ‘best athletes in the world’.  As for defense, he provided a frank and comical moment noting he needed to ‘not fall asleep on defense’ or get caught on backdoor cuts.

The areas he is expected to need to adapt is spacing since the court is so much bigger, remembering the three-second defensive rule, and again physicality.

Calls the biggest challenge has not been able to play 5 on 5 since March so while he feels he’s a different player now he hasn’t been able to measure his growth.

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NBA favorites:

Not surprisingly the left-hander also has a penchant for other left-handed guards. Two players he’s watched tons of film of are Manu Ginobili and James Harden. He brought both players up a few times in his responses.

Other guards Hayes noted liking and looking to for tips are Goran Dragic and cited Milos Teodosic specifically for how he runs pick and roll sets.

Growing up Hayes said he was a big fan of Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade.

Although he didn’t pick a specific player or team as a preference he stated his best fit would be on a team with lots of shooters and loves athletic big men with the ability to catch lob passes. No doubt Hayes was cautious to specify one team given the range of teams he could be drafted by.

As for individual goals he’s set his sights high stating he wants to be a starter and win Rookie of the Year.

Next: NBA Draft big board 2.0 – Top 30 prospects