The Wisconsin Badgers and Nigel Hayes had an up and down year. Hayes did average 15.7 PPG, which was a career high, but in every other statistical category, his numbers actually went down. He shot 36.8 percent from the field and a horrid 29.3 percent from deep. During the 2014-15 season, he shot 49.7 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from three. Hayes was certainly called on a lot more to score for the Badgers this year, since there was no Sam Dekker or Frank Kaminsky on the roster, but his numbers are not acceptable.
Hayes probably should not declare for the NBA draft because he should go back to school to work on offensive game. He needs to become more of a consistent shooter all-around, and he needs to take care of the basketball better as well, but if he did decide to leave, he would get drafted.
According to Draftexpress.com, Hayes is projected to be a late first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Hayes probably should return to really show his true potential and to help lead the Badgers on a deep tourney run. If he does not return to school, he will still be able to develop his game for the next level, it just might take a a couple more years for him to start playing meaningful minutes in the NBA.
Hayes probably shouldn't declare for the upcoming draft, but what if he did forgo his senior season?
Hayes's Draft Outlook
If Hayes decided to leave Wisconsin early for the NBA draft, he would probably get drafted anywhere from late first round to middle of the second round. On Draftexpress.com, he is No. 51 on their top 100 prospects list. There is obviously a lot of interest in Hayes because of his ability to stretch the floor as a power forward, but one thing we did learn this year is that he cannot be a go-to scorer or a No. 1 option. He shot terribly from the field and from beyond the arc this season, Hayes and Bronson Koenig were the primary scorers for the Badgers, and Wisconsin was not a very good offensive team. Hayes led the team in minutes and scoring, his team relied heavily on his offensive production, which is why his numbers are not great.
Hayes could be a good NBA role player for the future because he has shown in the past that he can thrive on a team when he is not the main source of offense. He has great size at 6-foot-8 and he is the ideal size for a power forward. He should be able to stretch the floor at the next level, but he must improve his three-point shot. Hayes shot 39.6 percent from deep in his sophomore season and in his junior season he shot 29.3 percent, which is not good at all. He has good moves in the post and he is pretty good at attacking the rim. He has a plethora of weapons on the offensive end and he is a crafty player.
Hayes did have some big games for Wisconsin this year where he displayed his full offensive repertoire. He can be very dangerous on offense and he can create his own shot, which is another reason why some team would take him in the upcoming draft if he declared.
Hayes should stay in school for his senior season, but if he left for the NBA draft, he would still get drafted. Hayes probably will stay in school for one more year because the Badgers are practically losing no one from their 2015-2016 team that made the Sweet 16. If Hayes returns to Madison, he could become one of the best players in the Big Ten.