This year’s draft class is one of the best in recent memory, not only due to the superior talent at the top, but also the amount of quality depth. There is no doubt that there will be multiple players drafted outside the top 14 selections in this year’s NBA Draft who will have an impact in the league next season.
Former University of North Carolina standout and Texas Legends shooting ace P.J. Hairston has proven to scouts and teams that he can be an effective scorer, both inside and out. His ability to hit spot-up threes, especially in the corner, makes him a desirable asset for a number of teams looking to add an outside scoring threat. Hairston is a strong finisher at the rim, and plays with a toughness and confidence that coaches and scouts absolutely love.
Questions surrounding Hairston’s potential in the league are found both on and off the court. Hairston was dismissed from UNC in 2013 due to multiple off-the-court issues, and eventually earned a roster spot in the NBA’s D-League. Bringing baggage into the league is no new thing, but few have taken the road he has. On the court, his lack of consistent effort and tenacity, along with his high confidence, make him a poor and susceptible defender. Offensively, he is a “black hole” of sorts as once as he touches the ball — often the next action is Hairston putting a shot up.
All that being said, Hairston is arguably the most NBA-ready two-guard in this years’ draft class. His ability to hit open jumpers gives him an edge over his more athletic counterparts at this juncture. If he could have kept things together and spent this season with the Tar Heels, there was a possibility of him being a top-10 pick.
The Chicago Bulls need offensive playmakers and knockdown shooters. That describes Hairston’s game fairly well. His ability to sink spot-up three-pointers will give him an edge over other more experienced players currently on the roster. Coach Tom Thibodeau will have to teach him how to play team defense, which won’t be an easy task (miracles have happened before, though, e.g. Kyle Korver). More importantly, Chicago has a strong locker room that would hopefully keep Hairston on the correct path through his first couple of seasons in the league. He needs stability — something that the Bulls have.
Hairston reminds me of a young James Harden (like when Harden was drafted). A player with a lot of scrutiny coming out of college, but can score the basketball. He’s not a great defender (Harden is still an awful defender) and tends to look for his shot first before running the offense. But both have an incredible amount of talent. Harden was lucky and was drafted by a franchise with two up-and-coming superstars who taught and matured with him. Hopefully Hairston is drafted into a similar situation.
Hairston averaged 21.7 points per game for the Texas Legends this season. During his sophomore year at North Carolina, he averaged 14.5 points and four rebounds per game coming off the bench for the Tar Heels. In the 2014-15 season, he could be just what the Chicago Bulls need.