Drafted by: Miami Heat, No. 26 overall
Traded to: Charlotte Hornets for Shabazz Napier and No. 55 pick
Team: Texas Legends (D-League)
Height/Weight: 6'5", 229 lbs
Age: 21 years old
Projected NBA Position: Shooting Guard
Pro Comparison: Caron Butler
Twitter Handle: @Mr_Hairston15
Although off-the-court issues led to his dismissal at North Carolina, P.J. Hairston landed on his feet in the D-League and put together a nice audition for the NBA.
With a sturdy physique and deep range on his jumper, the former Tar Heel is poised to make an impact as a wing scorer in the Association.
He's an attractive draft prospect because he has a pro-ready body and thrived in the uptempo style of the NBADL. Hairston's departure from UNC might have actually helped his draft stock in that regard.
While his minor league production of 21.8 points per game probably won't translate to NBA stardom, he has the scoring instincts required to be an effective shooting guard. He will be a dangerous perimeter threat that opponents must keep tabs on.
|Statistics at UNC/ D-League|
|NCAA.com & NBADLeague.com|
Sporting a terrific combination of size (6'5", 229 pounds) and length (6'9" wingspan), Hairston is well-equipped physically to play the 2 spot.
He uses his size to shoot confidently over defenders, and his strength helps him absorb contact and play a powerful brand of basketball when he slashes. Unlike many of his 2014 draft peers, he will be ready to deal with the physicality of the NBA from the get-go.
The key for him is to put these tools to use with maximum effort, something he hasn't done in the past.
Hairston upgraded his three-point shooting skills drastically from his freshman to sophomore year, and then he unleashed it in full force when he joined the Texas Legends in 2014.
He bombarded D-League opponents with 73 triples in just 26 games, using his instincts to find opportunities and his sweet shot to light up the scoreboard. Hairston displays superb footwork and fundamentals as he finds catch-and-shoot pockets and pull-up chances.
In transition, he slides into open space on the wing, prepared to receive passes and fire away before the defense gets set. During half-court sets, he moves well without the ball and utilizes screens. And when he works off the dribble, he can create step-back jumpers or mid-range pull-ups from any spot.
As a supplementary scorer, he will give his squad a huge boost.
Hairston won't handle the ball a ton or create dynamically off the dribble in the NBA, but he'll sprinkle in some forceful plays at the rim.
Defenders often stick to him on the perimeter due to his shooting ability, and he uses that against them by cutting to the basket for layups, dunks and alley-oops. He also makes timely plays at the hoop from weak-side rebounds.
When he puts the ball on the deck, it's usually not an intricate play but a simple slash or spin to the cup. One or two effective dribbles with either hand puts him in position to score.
On all of these at-the-rim opportunities, he finishes strong through contact and demonstrates great body control.
Hairston doesn't possess tremendous foot speed or explosive agility, but he has enough size and mobility to succeed defensively in the NBA.
When he applies himself, he uses his sturdy build and 6'9" wingspan to bother opposing guards. He slides well to stay in front of slashers, and his size is ideal for contesting shots.
In addition, he has good instincts to force turnovers. NBADraft.net scout Richard Harris noted that "when motivated, (Hairston) has active hands and comes up with a fair amount of steals."
He's not going to be a defensive star in the NBA, but his tools will yield solid results.
Dribble-drive quickness and creativity aren't Hairston's forte, and he'll struggle to generate separation in the NBA.
That's not his most concerning weaknesses, though. Effort and body language are.
He intermittently displays some lapses in energy, and when he and his team are on the wrong end of a call or play, he sometimes shows negative body language.
In addition, his practice habits don't look great, as he seemed to go through the motions during the NBA Draft Combine. Can he form good habits at the NBA level and bring positive energy throughout every game?
As for his driving arrest and impermissible benefits violations at UNC, he seems to have learned and grown from those mistakes. His practice and in-game demeanor are the big red flags.
Given his shooting skills and NBA-ready physique, Hairston should be able to contribute immediately as a rotational wing.
Not only does he have the body and perimeter scoring ability to play right away, but he's prepared by his stint in the D-League. He has a better feel for the NBA style of play, the three-point arc and the rigors of a packed schedule of games.
If Hairston is able to polish his shot-creating skills and exhibit maximum effort defensively, he could eventually earn a substantial role in the league.
When he puts his size, athleticism and shooting talent to use, he could be a productive prototypical NBA wing. It could lead to 25 minutes per game and double-figure scoring in a key role.
This is a loaded draft class, so he may not go down as one of the greatest talents from this group. However, he should be one of the best shooting guards from 2014 and enjoy a robust career.