If you were expecting former North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston to have a slow foray into the NBA D-League, particularly after not playing competitively for nearly a year due to an NCAA investigation that led to his dismissal from the university, you’d be mistaken. In fact, he’s come out of the gate with the Texas Legends absolutely tearing it up.
Through four games, the 21-year-old guard has averaged 23 points, four rebounds, one assist and two steals in 31 minutes per game while hitting 50 percent of his shot attempts and 40 percent of his threes. Hairston had one game of lackluster play this Saturday against the Santa Cruz Warriors where he put up just seven points, four rebounds and four turnovers on 1-9 shooting, but he’s been a phenomenal asset otherwise.
While Tar Heels fans have to be shaking their head in a mix of disappointment and sadness watching what their team is missing this season, Hairston is doing exactly what he needs to be doing in terms of his prospects for the 2014 NBA Draft.
Coming into the college basketball season, Hairston was thought of as a late first round pick by most people in this talented draft class. With him sitting on the sidelines for UNC during the NCAA’s investigation of him, though, his stock was doing nothing but falling. After he was essentially let go from the university, though, he did the right thing by joining the D-League.
Now he’s doing the right things in the D-League. Hairston’s two biggest weapons as a possibly NBA player are his ability to score in a variety of ways and to defend well, both of which he’s put on display through his first four games with the Legends. Hairston clearly has the workable skills that could make him a valuable three-and-D role player at the pro level. If he can continue this play at the D-League, he’ll almost surely bring his value back to being a first round pick this summer.