The Cleveland Cavaliers will pick No. 1 overall and No. 33 overall in the upcoming NBA draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might consider in the 2014 NBA draft. Today, we profile former North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston. Click here for more draft profiles.
Tale of the Tape
Name: P.J. Hairston
Position: Shooting Guard
College: Two years at North Carolina, one year in NBA D-League with Texas Legend
Height: 6′ 4.25″ (w/o shoes), 6′ 5.25″ (w/shoes)
Weight: 229 pounds
Honors: Led UNC in scoring in 2012-2013 with 14.6PPG, 21.8PPG on 45.3 percent shooting (35.8 percent 3FG) in 26 D-League Games.
Coming off a successful 2012-2013 season for the North Carolina, P.J. Hairston was suspended for numerous run-ins with the law, including: police finding marijuana in a vehicle driven by Hairston (later dropped), going 93 MPH in a 65, and most notably for accepting improper benefits from a former felon (tip, never accept gifts from someone who goes by the name “Fats”). After going through a full investigation UNC chose not to reinstate Hairston for the 2013-2014 season.
Hairston looks the part of the prototypical NBA two-guard and has the requisite size and length most often sought after in a wing player. He’s one of the prospects most physically ready to perform right away at the next level. His bulky frame allows him to attack the basket and finish with contact. His 6’9” wingspan puts him on serious “Jay Bilas WINGSPAN ALERT” during draft day. Let’s just leave it as Hairston’s physical makeup isn’t going to be an issue.
Hairston possesses a silky smooth jump shot and can shoot the lights out from beyond the arc. In just 26 D-League games, Hairston made a total of 76 threes— needing no time to adjust to the NBA 3-point line. He made 89 three-pointers his last season at UNC, at a 48.6 percent clip. He’s more than just an outside shooter, however as Hairston looks to attack the rim often, generating easy buckets or free throw attempts when he drives to the hoop (6.9 free throw attempts this past season). A clean, fluid release with good mechanics couples with his aggressive, attack-first mentality and exceptional body size make Hairston one of the best scorers in the draft. Any number of teams looking for a wing that can put the ball through the net should be interested in calling Hairston’s name.
On the other hand Hairston is looking to do one thing and one thing only when it comes to the offensive side of the ball— score. He’s one of worst passers in the draft, according to statistics from the D-League’s website, Hairston generated an assist on just 4.1 percent of his possessions, good enough for one of the worst totals for the top 100 prospects. He scores predominantly off of jumpers or isolation drives, meaning he can sometimes clog up an offense by routinely calling his own number. He’s also been known to give less than 100 percent effort on plays; even some scouts said he dogged drills at the NBA combine, something a player looking to rebuild their image can ill-afford to do.
Hairston’s size and athleticism give him the potential to be a special defender at the next level- if he wants to be. His long arms and build allow him to guard both wing positions effectively, in fact, he spent most of his time in college guarding the opposing teams small forward. He’s quick enough to fight around screens, and big enough to hold his own on isolation plays. Statistically he’s always done well in regards to collecting steals too, averaging 1.3 steals per game at UNC and 1.5 steals per game for the Legends. If the right coach can convince him to give consistent effort defensively from the get-go then Hairston has the potential to be a strong defensive player to match his impressive offensive repertoire. The previously mentioned dogging comes into play again here, as Hairston’s lack of effort can lead to easy buckets for opponents if he’s not focused and motivated.
While Hairston may fit the bill from of an NBA-caliber player physically, he lacks (or hasn’t consistently displayed as of yet) the ability to make the right decisions-on and off the court. He’s not known as a willing passer (he averaged only 1.4 assists per gmae while at UNC, and even less playing the “me first” style of basketball that players get remembered for at the D-League level. I’ll put money on the table that you don’t find a quote about him setting a hard screen or diving for a loose ball. Given the aforementioned report of him giving less than spectacular effort at the combine (all the while knowing he has to show scouts and GM’s he’s reshaped his poor image) and you can understand why scouts are hesitant to back drafting Hairston. Numerous run-ins with the law and a bad reputation go a long ways in damaging a player’s career, especially one that hasn’t even played a professional game yet.
Physically built like the prototypical shooting guard. Hairston looks the part of an NBA two. But there have plenty of physically appealing players who never mounted to much in the NBA (Travis Leslie, Isaiah Rider, the list goes on and on). Hairston has a little bit of J.R. Smith (the Hornet/early Nugget) edition, and that might not be a good thing. Checkered past puts him dangerously close to being added to the Bonzi Wells Trouble Maker scale. Hairston could be a big time “boom-or-bust” prospect. With another troubled prospect playing a big time role in these Playoffs (a much more troubled prospect to boot), will managers be more willing to risk a late-first round pick on the former Tarheel?
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
Pretty well actually. The Cavs are in need of three-point shooting help, and Hairston is also capable of backing up both wing positions. He gives them a bigger guard to throw against opposing teams, and could come and play right away, unlike many prospects. Depending on which way the Cavaliers go with the number one pick, Hairston should be on the Cavs radar when No. 33 rolls around…. If he’s still available, that is.