Pistons top pick Killian Hayes 'excited' to team with, learn from Derrick Rose
The Pistons entered the NBA Draft with the No. 7 pick, and general manager Troy Weaver and his staff completed their draft board and identified their top targets.
Near the top of the board was guard Killian Hayes, and even though some of the picks directly before the Pistons went a little differently than many had anticipated, the Pistons stayed true to their scouting and selected the player they coveted, while also filling a positional need on the roster.
Though Hayes, 19, played last season in Germany for Ratiopharm Ulm, he’s not an unknown quantity. Weaver, who then was an assistant general manager with the Oklahoma City Thunder, already had done his scouting work and was very familiar with Hayes.
“I've been watching Killian play since he was 16. I was able to go over and see him this year before the pandemic hit,” Weaver said Wednesday during a teleconference introducing the Pistons’ four draft picks. “I was fortunate to do my work early — good scouts do their work early — so I was fortunate to see him this year. I've been watching him play since he was 16, so he wasn't new to me or to the draft board. I'm very excited about Killian coming here to Detroit.”
Hayes, 6-foot-5, is a major addition to the Pistons’ roster, pairing with veteran Derrick Rose to provide a different look and a young defensive presence in the backcourt. That position was one of the biggest needs, so filling that with a young, promising option was a priority.
That Hayes was the second point guard selected in a draft that was stocked at the position says something about how the Pistons valued him, and how much work they put into making sure he was the right pick.
“A coach in the NBA is always dying for point guards and that's one thing we went into the draft (wanting). We targeted certain players at each position and Killian is definitely who we targeted at the point guard position,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Like any rookie, he's going to have a lot to learn, and what’s better than to have a guy like Derrick Rose to learn from, to be around every day, to go against and to steal from?
“There's nothing wrong with that. Those two guys together are going to be two elite guys in our backcourt. Killian has a knack of finding people, of passing the ball — he's an excellent passer and he sees the floor very well. He'll learn a lot from Derrick and we're excited.”
Rose, 32, has had his share of injuries throughout his career, but with a young rookie to help mold, he can also conceivably scale back some of his minutes and not have to be pressed into starting duty as he was toward the end of last season.
For Hayes, it’s an opportunity to be mentored by one of the best point guards in the game. Rose is entering the final year of his contract, so it’s possible that he could be traded before the deadline, which puts more of a premium on learning a lot in a short time span.
“I'm really excited to play with D-Rose, being able to learn from him, compete against him at practice. It's a great opportunity for me to get better and to learn really early,” Hayes said. “Without any Summer League or anything, the season is going to come really quick, so being able to learn from this guy is really a blessing. I think we all grew up kind of watching Derrick Rose. It's definitely going to be cool being with him.”