'He'll help right away': Killian Hayes heads trio of first-round picks for Pistons
In his first NBA Draft since taking over as Pistons general manager, Troy Weaver began to put his stamp on remaking the roster on Wednesday.
What’s clear is that it won’t be a slow, patient rebuild.
Weaver made a huge first impression on his first draft night, executing a flurry of trades and adding the centerpiece for the future.
With the No. 7 pick, the Pistons selected Killian Hayes, a 6-foot-5 point guard who has played professionally for three years in Germany. Hayes, 19, had been projected in the top 10 leading up to the draft and Weaver pounced on the opportunity to get the next floor leader.
“We’re excited about Killian. His (comparison) for me is a bigger version of (Goran) Dragic, a crafty lefty who can score at all three levels and can see the floor,” Weaver said late Wednesday night. “I think he'll help us right off the bat defensively. For a young player, he has a defensive mindset and we want to establish a defensive mentality here.
“Also, he can really see the floor and spread the ball around. Keeping his teammates involved and bringing defensive mentality are the two things he'll help us with right away.”
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Hayes pairs well with the Pistons’ first-round pick last year, 19-year-old Sekou Doumbouya, who is also from France. Hayes was born in Lakeland, Fla., but moved back to France with his family, where he has been playing professionally.
“Yeah, as soon as I got drafted, Sekou sent me the eyes emoji that's looking away. I told him in French: ‘J'arrive,’ which means I'm coming,” Hayes said Wednesday. “I see Detroit is making a lot of trades. I hope he stays in Detroit and everything goes well.”
With the rookie-contract slots, Hayes is in line for a four-year deal worth $24.1 million, with $10.9 million guaranteed.
The first three picks in the draft went as projected, with Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball. The next three picks were somewhat a surprise, with Florida State’s Patrick Williams, Auburn’s Isaac Okoro and Southern California’s Onyeka Okongwu, setting the Pistons up to have several players they prized available. That included another highly regarded point guard, Tyrese Haliburton, who was projected to be gone before the seventh pick.
Weaver stuck to the draft board and set the Pistons up at a needed position. With Derrick Rose as the only experienced point guard on the roster, Hayes doesn’t have to step into the starting lineup immediately and can learn the ropes.
“We stayed true to the board, absolutely. It pretty much went the way we thought we would go,” Weaver said. “We were fortunate enough that our guy was at No. 7 and we were excited about that.”
Hayes has extensive international experience and is known for his pick-and-roll ability and with his 6-8 wingspan, he can become a solid defender for the Pistons on the perimeter.
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Before the draft, the Pistons acquired veteran forward Trevor Ariza and the No. 16 pick from the Houston Rockets in exchange for a future first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
With the 16th pick, the Pistons selected center Isaiah Stewart, who played at Washington. Stewart (6-9, 250 pounds) has a 7-4 wingspan. He could fit into the Pistons’ plans as a small-ball center and is noted for his ability to set screens and defend in the post.
The Pistons also traded Luke Kennard to the Clippers for the No. 19 pick, which they had received from the Brooklyn Nets for Landry Shamet. With that choice, the Pistons took wing Saddiq Bey.
Bey, a 6-8 combo forward, has a 6-11 wingspan and played two seasons at Villanova. He shot 45% on 3-pointers (on 6.7 attempts) last season. His versatility will be a valuable addition to the roster, fitting with Weaver’s philosophy of lengthy wings who can switch defensively.
Ariza, 35, is a solid forward who averaged eight points and 4.6 rebounds and shot 37% on 3-pointers with the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings last season.
The move is partly a salary dump for the Pistons, as Ariza is entering the final year of his contract and is due $12.8 million. The benefit is that only $1.8 million of it is guaranteed, so the Pistons aren’t necessarily committed to use all of their available cap space.
Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill reported that the future first-round pick the Pistons are sending is protected 1-16 in the first four years, 1-10 in the next two and top nine in year seven, and then to a second-round pick if it’s not conveyed by then.
Wojnarowski added that the move will allow the Rockets, who are hard-capped, to use their midlevel exception during free agency. Additionally, Wojnarowski reported that the Rockets are purchasing the Pistons’ 2021 second-round pick, acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers, for $4.6 million.
The Pistons closed out the evening by acquiring the No. 38 pick in the second round from Utah for future draft considerations. With that No. 38 pick the Pistons selected Saben Lee, a point guard from Vanderbilt. The 6-2 Lee is one of the quickest players in the draft but is an inconsistent shooter.