2014 NBA Draft: Memphis Grizzlies Must Target P.J. Hairston

By Nathan Grubel
P.J. Hairston
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There are two ways to go about the NBA draft. One can either go with the prospect with the highest upside, or choose the player that can come in and fit an immediate need. In most cases, the team choosing the best long-term prospect is one of the teams that needs the most help in terms of overall talent, whereas the team that is taking the player that fits a need is one that is close or on the verge of championship contention.

The latter option describes the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies finished 50-32 this past season, and made it into the playoffs as the No. 7 team in the Western Conference. The team fought hard, but unfortunately was eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games.

One main reason the team went home early? Shooting.

While the Grizzlies were able to put more points on the board than their season average (96.1 points per game as a team in the regular season compared to 96.7 points per game in the 2013-14 postseason), their offense did not make that significant of a leap. Most of the points scored came from inside the three-point arc, as the Grizzlies only shot 29.0 percent from deep, good for last among all 16 playoff teams.

Memphis needs a knockdown shooter desperately, but luckily for the team, there is a really good shooter who potentially could be available when the Grizzlies pick at No. 22 in the 2014 NBA draft: P.J. Hairston.

Hairston was a solid recruit for the University of North Carolina and lived up to the kind of player he was billed to be: a 6-foot-6 guard who could really light it up from deep.

During his sophomore year at UNC, Hairston shot 39.6 percent from three and put up 14.6 points per game on mainly spot up shooting. When the systematic offense broke down and Hairston had the ball in his hands, he was able to create off the dribble and hit some nice pull-up shots from the mid-range and beyond the three-point line. Hairston is a talented scorer who is athletic enough to be able to do more than just shoot the ball off a corner pass. He has the ability to break his man down off the dribble and either pull-up or finish at the rim. Hairston’s role in UNC’s offense was to primarily be a spot-up shooter, so the opportunities he had to score in a variety of other ways were limited, but when Hairston did get creative with the ball, he put on a show.

After his sophomore year at UNC, things got tricky for Hairston. Hairston ran into a number of speeding and drug violations which led to his suspension from the team. In December of 2013, the school said that it would not reinstate Hairston, so he left for the NBA Developmental League in hopes to still have a shot to enter the NBA draft. Hairston did just that, and man did he light it up.

Hairston averaged 21.7 points per game on 45.3 percent shooting, including 35.8 percent from three for the Texas Legends. Hairston was asked to be a go-to scorer for the team, so while his shooting efficiency could stand to be improved, he was given more responsibility than he would likely be given on an NBA team. Despite his percentages, Hairston showcased his athleticism and scoring ability during his time with the Legends, showing off a variety of step-back and pull-up moves along with his spot-up shooting and ability to play both in transition and above the rim. If Hairston goes to the right team, he could develop into a real special scorer.

Luckily for the Grizzlies, they can use him in a reduced role and take advantage of his shooting ability while also developing him into a potentially lethal scorer for the team years down the road.

Hairston has stayed out of trouble during his time in the D-League, and if his words are to be taken seriously, then his troubles are behind him. If the Grizzlies want to take a chance on a dynamic shooter who has the potential to be more than that down the road, then the team needs to target Hairston when they make their pick.

The Grizzlies need offensive help, and Hairston can be their guy if they make the right decision come draft night.

Nathan Grubel is a Memphis Grizzlies writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @The_Only_Grubes, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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