The Wizards may find themselves selecting between two players when they are on the board with the No. 9 overall pick. Here is a compare-and-contrast look at the two best point guards who could potentially be available at that spot...
TYRESE HALIBURTON (IOWA STATE) VS. KILLIAN HAYES (FRANCE)
Age: Haliburton 20 / Hayes 19
Height/weight: Haliburton 6'5", 175 lbs. / Hayes 6'5", 215 lbs.
Wingspan: Haliburton 7' / Hayes 6'8"
Key stats: Haliburton 15.2 ppg, 6.5 apg, 5.9 rpg, 2.5 spg, 50.4 FG%, 41.9 3PT% / Hayes 12.8 ppg, 6.2 apg, 2.3 rpg, 1.5 spg, 45.5 FG%, 39.0 3PT%
The factors: The Wizards have good reason to look at other positions besides point guard as they evaluate options for the No. 9 pick, as they already have John Wall set to return from his long injury absence, plus Ish Smith and the potential for Troy Brown Jr. to serve as a back-up. Wall is only 30 and signed long-term.
But the Wizards also have incentive to favor the best player available over positional need given the state of their franchise and the prospect of missing out on a future star. And given the age of top draft prospects these days, it is arguably not too early to draft an eventual starter at point guard. If you take a 19-year-old, he will only be 22 by the time Wall's deal is up, when he will be 32. There is also the ability to play three-guard lineups with Wall and Bradley Beal.
In order for the Wizards to take a point guard with the ninth pick, the board would likely have to shake out in a way that the top prospects at positions of greater need would be gone. And if a point guard was the best player remaining, they would likely have to see that guy's upside as too good to pass up, given they may not be able to help much right away.
A scenario with those elements would probably mean Onyeka Okongwu and Isaac Okoro are gone. Maybe Devin Vassell, as well. If those things happen, the Wizards could very well face a choice between Tyrese Haliburton of Iowa State and Killian Hayes, who is originally from Lakeland, FL but grew up in France.
Haliburton is a do-it-all player who can shoot, pass, rebound and defend. He has a uniquely high basketball IQ and has a chance to be effective both on and off the ball. He could conceivably play well with Wall and Beal despite being listed by most outlets as a point guard.
Hayes would be more of a long-term project given his age and limited high-level basketball experience. He would be the type you pick and develop with a post-Wall era in mind.
THREAD OF AWESOME SHOTS BY KILLIAN HAYES:— Zach Smith (@z_smith33) August 24, 2020
1. He recognizes his man going under the screen and uses the roll as a second screen and then creates space using the side step pic.twitter.com/p3sUuH54BX
The decision: If the Wizards did indeed choose between these two players, they would have to weigh the short-term with the long-term. Haliburton probably helps much sooner than Hayes, given the refinement of his game and his complementary style. Hayes likely needs a situation where he has the ball in his hands running the offense, whether that is in a starting or bench role.
Haliburton could step right in and help as a perimeter defender and playmaker in the Wizards' second unit. Depending on how quickly his shooting and rebounding translates, he could even crack the starting lineup as a wing or third guard next to Wall and Beal. His path to minutes looks relatively clear, as he could back up Wall at point and also play some two and three.
Hayes would be about taking the long-view and hoping he reaches his potential as a scorer and playmaker in the mold of James Harden, as a big guard and lefty shooter whose signature move is a stepback three. Hayes would likely not find early minutes on the Wizards with Wall and Smith holding down the fort at point guard and no certainty he can play elsewhere. The Wizards could try Hayes at shooting guard, but would more likely have to stash him on their bench like they did Kelly Oubre Jr. and Brown in years past.
There is an argument why Hayes would make sense, but if the board develops as described above, and Haliburton unexpectedly fell to ninth, Haliburton would make the most sense for Washington. He would give them some upside, but also a chance to make an impact right away.
@IowaStateMBB Sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton is a joy to watch on film and he's become a monster in transition with his court vision. Haliburton currently ranks in the 88th percentile via Synergy when it comes to Transition Offense.#NBATwitter x #NBADraft pic.twitter.com/OIKt98tpNb— Backcourt Violation (@backcourtv) January 2, 2020
Haliburton would make the Wizards more versatile on both ends, add another shooter to stretch the floor and give them a boost with perimeter defense, which they need. He also rebounds particularly well for a guard, and the Wizards need that, too.
The chance to improve on several weaknesses, add a guy who could likely contribute right away and potentially find a long-term option in the backcourt would be too good for the Wizards to pass up. If this is the decision, Haliburton is the choice.