Killian Tillie Scouting Report
By: Alex Brown @AhbAnalytics
Draft Age: 22.4 years (3/5/1998)
Measurements: 6’10, 220 lbs, Wingspan N/A
Background: Killian Tillie hails from a volleyball family and grew up in France. His parents were both former professional volleyball players, and his father is the coach of the French national team. After committing to Gonzaga as 4 star international recruit, Tillie has been a high impact player every year in his role despite constant injury issues. He competed for the French U16 team and won the U16 title in 2014 with MVP honors. He also led France’s U19 in scoring and rebounding in 2017. Tillie has been plagued by injuries throughout his college career, detailed below. However, he remains positive and continues to work despite his setbacks.
Notable Public Injury Report: Left Ankle Sprain (Jan 2020), ‘Minor’ Knee Surgery (October 2019), Ankle Sprain at Hawks Workout (May 2019), Torn Plantar Fascia Ligament in Foot (Early 2019), Ankle Stress Fracture – Requiring Surgery (October 2018), Broken Ring Finger on Shooting Hand (Early 2017), Undisclosed Hip Injury. He basically always plays with pain, it has become reality for him that he has accepted. Will he ever be 100%?
Personality: Tillie is absolutely cherished by the Gonzaga fanbase, and for good reason. He is the type of person that brings energy, humor, and a bit of a laid back attitude. He seems like the type of person that rolls with the punches and doesn’t take life too seriously. Essentially, he is extremely likable. He is also not afraid to be a leader from what I have heard, and took steps forward here during his senior campaign. On the court, he sees the game at a high level and plays to win.
Athleticism: Tillie is a quick leaper in space off one foot (when healthy) with great coordination and a stronger upper body. He is not really explosive enough from a standstill to play the small ball 5 defensively, and is best suited to defending the perimeter surprisingly. He moves his feet and hips quite well, and will likely be used as a switch defender that can be used in some advanced P&R coverages. He is strong and physical in POA. Athletically, he fits in best as a modern perimeter oriented 4.
Projected Fits: Modern 4 | Inside-Outside Scorer | Glue Guy | Switchable Defender.
Projected Draft Landing: Late First – Mid Second (mostly due to injury concerns).
- High: Efficient Versatile Starting Modern 4 – Superior Sixth Man – Healthy
- Goes to a program with a great training staff that can keep him relatively healthy. A healthy Killian Tillie becomes an impactful starter or high value 6th man on a good team. He provides value with his superior feel/IQ, excellent shooting (40%+ from 3), useful playmaking, and strong, versatile finishing. He picks apart teams with his ability to read the game and react accordingly. Defensively, he makes a winning impact as a switchable inside/outside presence that consistently makes the right plays despite limitations as a rim protector. Healthy Killian Tillie is a top 10 player in the class in my eyes. So smart and so impactful despite low usage. Perfect modern 4 for many schemes with a rare feel and skillset at 6’10.
- Medium: High Rotation – Superior Role Player – Injury Issues.
- While he is hindered by injuries, Tillie still ends up playing more than half of the season and impacts the game at a high level for a role player. He will frequently sit for load management. He contributes to winning at a higher per-minute rate than your average role player. His high IQ, shooting, playmaking, and physical slashing allow him to make a strong impact as an offensive glue guy, while his switchable, intelligent defense provides value.
- Low: Limited Role Player – Many Injury Issues – Regression Ensues.
- Health severely limits Killian’s time in the NBA due to an inability to stay on the floor due to constant lower body injuries. This outcome would occur should a training staff be not equipped to mitigate the risks of injury effectively. This is a risk with Tillie, but when he is healthy he will be an impactful role player that positively contributes to winning in a low usage, high efficiency role. NBA career lasts less than 10 years.
- Offensive IQ: Tillie is an incredibly intelligent basketball player. His understanding of (notably) offensive schemes and off-ball movement will help him at whatever next level he ends up at. He is the type of modern forward that has the potential to pick teams apart with his IQ, movement, shooting, and passing.
- Off-Ball Movement: Tillie is extremely active off the ball for a modern 4. He flashes to open seams and picks his spots on the interior and perimeter at a very high level. He reads the game so effectively, and it shows itself to the fullest when he moves without the ball.
- Floor Stretching: Tillie is not shy when it comes to letting it fly from deep. He has a beautiful shot with textbook mechanics and a great base. Tillie made 106 of his 239 attempts from 3 at Gonzaga (44.4%), and can be used as a spot up threat, pick and pop threat, trailer, and a movement shooter at times.
- Spot-Up Shooting: Tillie’s beautiful mechanics and base provide the framework for a lethal floor stretching big. In spot up scenarios, Tillie has shown impeccable footwork and relocation strategies for a modern 4. He will continue to be an off-ball asset at the next level due to his ability to find space and execute.
- Pick and Pop: Naturally, Tillie’s high IQ, off-ball movement, and beautiful shot make him a lethal pop option. He accelerated to his spots surprisingly quickly and instinctually too, which has genuine value. He sets his feet in advance, and gets in rhythm as a popper.
- Finishing & Attacking: I am a fan of Killian’s finishing package, as he has excellent floater touch, a wide array of moves and fakes, and the below the rim skillset needed to be successful as a finisher. In space, he can take other bigs off the dribble, attack in a straight line, and manipulate his defender with fakes and hesitations. His physicality and intelligence shine here as well, and when he is healthy he can get to his spots quite effectively in a myriad of finishing scenarios.
- Attacking Closeouts: Tillie’s gravity as a shooter, physicality, and superior BBIQ make him quite adept at attacking closeouts as a 6’10 big. The modern game favors shooters that can leverage their gravity and spacing to attack the rim, and Tillie will be rewarded as such.
- Roll-Man: Despite not being a notable vertical threat, Tillie is an efficient roll man due to his superior understanding of positioning and his finishing strength & craft. With the threat of his floaters and touch shots, he can keep defenders from dropping on him, forcing them to play physical or tight on Tillie. However, Tillie is no stranger to contact and will gladly initiate contact anyone in his way. Furthermore, the threat of his short roll passing paired with the aforementioned strengths makes him an incredibly difficult player to guard in roll situations.
- Rim-Running: Tillie puts forth effort as a rim runner and roll man. He runs the floor well in transition and can finish powerfully in space. He will be a plus end to end player.
- Physicality: One aspect of Killian’s game that I really admire is his physicality. For a guy that has been as injured as much as he has, his continued effort to fight for position and draw contact is admirable. He creates space when slashing as a result, and can be a lower tier bruiser vs mismatches. Occasionally fades and relies on his touch, but he is not afraid to use his body to create space.
- Play Finishing: Killian can find value at the dunker spot due to his body control, IQ, and relocation skills. It is interesting how he finds ways to finish despite not being a plus vertical threat from a standstill. As a low usage secondary play finisher, he could provide additional value.
- Post Offense: Ranked in the 93rd percentile in the post, generating 1.12 PPP. Gonzaga used his crafty yet physical post game to exploit situational post mismatches very effectively. He has a fade, hook, and a myriad of other touch shots that he can effectively employ.
- Playmaking: Does an excellent job of playing off of and alongside other bigs. Can make plays for others from the perimeter, high/low post, interior, or the short roll. His high understanding of the game, instincts, anticipation, and system knowledge provide the tools for his playmaking attack. NBA value here.
- Improving Handle: Tillie can take other 4’s and weaker wings off the dribble in order to get to his spots in the paint. It isn’t perfect, but serviceable for now. He can bring the ball up the court at well, and could easily be a tertiary handler on the floor at the next level as his handle continues to be refined.
- Lower Usage Offensive Impact: Tillie finished with a career +10.1 BPM over 4 years despite just a career 20.4% usage rate. His senior year, he sported a +12 (+8.3 OBPM) with just a 22.9% usage rate. Interestingly enough, as his defensive DBPM waned, his OBPM grew (essentially, he made up for lapses on one end on the other end). Tillie also sports a 127.5 career ORtg. Being so impactful without needed many touches is the calling card of a great NBA role player.
- Efficiency and Points Per Possession: Tillie was extremely efficient on the offensive end, as he needed relatively few touches to make a major impact, and capitalized on them so often. Ranking in the 98th percentile in PPP on the offensive end, Tillie was a nightmare for opposing teams. Against man coverage he climbed to the 99th percentile.
- Athletic Limitations: While mostly injury induced, Tillie can be limited athletically depending on the day. His access to his athletic tools waxes and wanes, which can make it difficult for him offensively as he needs to constantly adapt. Some games he may not be able to rise up for power finishes, other games he might. The ambiguity here is what makes him a difficult evaluation, as when he is 100% he is a really solid athlete for a modern 4, but when he isn’t (which is often) he has limitations. I would personally love to see him go to a program in California, as Steph Curry’s overcoming of injury was due to the superior access to the elite health professionals there from what I have heard. If you have faith in your training staff, draft Tillie.
- Lacking Vertical Threat: When you have as many lower body injuries a Tillie, chances are you are not going to be a major vertical threat. While it is not exactly necessary for him to be impactful, it is notable regarding his limitations in various scenarios. He can still finish strongly above the rim in space when he can load or get up to speed.
Synergy Profile: Lots of noise but added info.
- Versatility & Switching: Tillie has quick enough feet to defend wing players in POA, and he can stick with the occasional guard too. His feet move so well, and his footwork is often a beauty to witness (when he is healthy and mobile). When paired with his physicality, he has the makings of a valuable defender.
- IQ and Feel: Tillie is an extremely smart basketball player, and it shows itself on the defensive end (though to a lesser degree than his offense). He uses his anticipation and positioning skills to generate blocks at an average rate to make up for his lacking verticality. He can also disrupt a bit and generate an occasional steal here and there due to strong anticipation. He won’t be an event generator, but he will make the right play consistently and not be a liability.
- Physicality: Killian Tillie is certainly not afraid to push opposing bigs off their spots. His physicality provides a great deterrence in the paint and on the perimeter that he understands how to leverage. He can be a bit bruising at times, especially versus mismatches.
- Rim Protection: While Tillie can snag a few blocks here and there due to superior feel and anticipation, he is not a plus rim protector at 6’10. Generating only 0.7 blocks per game on his career with a 3.4% block rate, his rim protection numbers look closer to a solid wing rather than a modern 4 prospect. I do not think using Tillie as a rim protector will be the best way to maximize his value.
- Lower Body Explosiveness: Tillie can’t really explode from a standstill, putting him at quite a disadvantage as a rim protector when he does not have time to load. Since he lacks superior length as well, Tillie’s only real rim protection value will be as a rotating big that can rely on his anticipation and positioning skills only.
- Interior Limitations: The lacking production and athletic limitations worry me regarding his potential as an interior defending big. I would worry sliding him in at the small ball 5 spot or emphasizing him defensively. I think he will be best in a limited defensive role where he can use his footspeed and physicality to deter the roll man or switch onto some wing initiators.
- Rebounding: Tillie is not a major threat to be plus rebounder, and fits in as more of a team rebounder than a glass crasher. Tillie is not likely to be a consistent double double threat by any means, but should be able to box out well and grab a few that come his way. Don’t expect many rebounds outside his area. 12.8 TRB%.
- Event Generation: Tillie does not project to be an event (or stock) generator, but rather a guy that can be versatile and competent overall without making a lot of big plays. He should fit in well in schemes and be a solid P&R disruptor, but won’t produce many stocks.
If a team really believes in their training/medical staff and Tillie’s obvious versatility and skillset, they should look to pull the trigger on a big that is almost sure to impact winning in a low usage role. Having a modern 4 as versatile and impactful as Tillie is rare, so balancing the injury risk with his value will be an interesting task for teams. The real question is if he can stay healthy enough to be worth an investment. I would personally love to see him go to a team in California, where Steph Curry was able to fix his lower body issues. If he is successful in mitigating his injury risk, you are looking at a very strong role player that could make a winning impact every night on a strong team.
Major Swing Factors: Health, Lower Body Strength Development.
Editors note: Featured image courtesy of The Spokesman-Review