2014 NBA Phoenix Suns Draft Prospect Profile: P.J. Hairston is a microwave

Grant Halverson

If you want a scorer off the bench to eventually supplant Gerald Green, then P.J. Hairston is your man. The Phoenix Suns may just need that kind of player.

P.J. Hairston

School: D-League (formerly UNC)

Position: Shooting Guard

Mock Draft Projections: NBADraft.net - 31, Draft Express - 22, ESPN - 24, NBA Draft Insider - 23

Stats (D-League)

  • PPG: 21.8
  • Rebounds: 3.5
  • Assists: 0.8
  • FG%: 45.3%
  • 3-pt FG%: 35.8%

Measurables

  • Height: 6' 4.25" without shoes, 6' 5.5" with shoes
  • Weight: 229 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Wingspan: 6' 9"
  • Standing Reach: 8' 5"

Combine Numbers

  • Maximum Vertical Leap: 37"
  • Lane Agility: 11.12 sec (6th among SG that tested)
  • 3/4 Court Sprint: 3.18 sec (8th among SG that tested)

Expert Analysis

DraftExpress

Texas Legends shooting guard P.J. Hariston's profile offers a fairly unique glimpse into the style of play in the NBADL on paper as well as how quickly he adapted and thrived playing in it.

The 2nd highest volume offensive player in this group averaging 19.7 possessions per-game, Hairston also ranks as the 3rd most efficient scorer in this group averaging 1.108 points per possession overall. He turned the ball over just 9% of the time in a catch and shoot heavy role, the lowest rate of any player in this group. The former UNC standout did a significant amount of his damage in transition with a 2nd ranked 27.9% of his possessions coming on the break where he scored a 2nd ranked 1.27 points per possession.

In the half court, the majority of Hairston's possessions came in spot up situations, as he used a sample high 5.4 spot-up possessions per-game. With just 6.3% of his possessions coming on the pick and roll and 6.9% coming in isolation situations, both of which rank in the bottom-3 among players in this group, Hairston exploited the pace and spacing of the D-League to rank among its top scorers.

Almost half of Hairston's possessions were catch and shoot jump shot, more than any player in this group. Though he made just 34.3% of those attempts, he made 47.6% of his pull-up jump shots on limited attempts, ranking above average in perimeter scoring efficiency overall. Ranking just average as a finisher, Hairston's huge role and at times explosive shooting in the NBADL gives teams a very accurate gauge of what he'll bring to the table as a rookie.

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Hairston is one of the few prospects in this draft who looks ready to come in and play a role in the NBA right away. His thick, strong build (230 pounds) is a major reason why he was able to adjust to the D-League so quickly, averaging 27 points per-40 minutes, as his shooting ability and aggressive style of play are tailor made for the NBA.

Richard Harris - NBADraft.net

NBA Comparison: Ricardo Ledo/Isaiah Rider

Notes: Hairston had one standout season at North Carolina (2012-13), leading the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game and finishing with 89 three-pointers, the second-most in a season by a Tar Heel. He made nearly 40 percent of his three-point attempts that season ... This past season, he finished fourth in the D-league in scoring, averaging 21.8 points per game, playing for Texas. He made 36 percent of his three pointers and 87 percent of his free throws ... Disappointed in the shooting drills at the NBA Combine, with some observers commenting on his casual approach ... Hairston was dismissed from UNC due to a series of off-court incidents. Between May and July of 2013, he was twice cited for speeding, citied once for driving without a license, and charged with possession of marijuana. A gun was also found outside his rental car. To make matters worse, on two of the occasions, he was driving cars leased by a known felon, which prompted the NCAA to launch an investigation into improper benefits.

Outlook: Assuming that he has learned from his mistakes, Hairston should at least enjoy an NBA career as a scorer/3-point specialist off the bench ... If he improves his overall effort and play on the defensive end, his prospects would be much brighter, though it is very doubtful that he would ever become an All-Star-level player due to his average athletic ability ... A borderline first-round selection who will likely fall into the second due to his past indiscretions ...

My Take

Hairston has great size for a shooting guard and pretty good agility. He can score, score, score and showed that in the D-League in a big way.

If you're looking for a three-point shooter who be a microwave off the bench, go for PJ. Hairston. But if you're looking for more than that, like defense for example, then look somewhere else.

I wrote on Sunday how Hairston compares to the other big name shooting guards Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris, per Draftexpress.com.

  • Hairston #1 in points per 40 min; Stauskas/Harris in middle of pack
  • Hairston #3 in 3-pt attempts per 40 min; Harris top 1/3, Stauskas middle of pack
  • Hairston #3 in 3-pt per FGA; Harris top 1/3, Stauskas middle of pack
  • Hairston #6 in Free throw attempts (FTA) per 40; Stauskas #7, Harris bottom half
  • Stauskas #3 in FTA/possession; Hairston and Harris middle of pack
  • Stauskas #2 in True Shooting %; Hairston #6, Harris middle
  • Stauskas #6 in in Assists/40; Harris #8, Hairston dead last
  • Stauskas, Harris and P.J. all middle of pack in Turnovers/40
  • Stauskas #3 in Pure Point Ratio (scoring + assists - turnovers); Harris #7, Hairston 2nd to last
  • Stauskas #6 in PER; Harris #8, Hairston in bottom 1/3
  • Harris middle of pack in Rebounds/40; Hairston bottom 1/3, Stauskas 2nd to last
  • Harris #5 in Steals/40; Hairston #7, Stauskas dead last
  • Harris #5 in Blocks/40; Hairston #6, Stauskas middle of pack

Many, many players have made a long career in the NBA as a score-first player. Teams love them because the coach always knows what he's going to get: good or bad, you'll get scoring but maybe give up just as many points on the other end.

For a team like the Suns, the P.J. Hairston fit is an interesting one. The Suns need shooting, and Hairston would provide that in spades. But the Suns also like guys who can play defense too, and Hairston just isn't that guy. He would be a legit replacement for a Gerald Green, for example, but you can't really play Gerald and P.J. together.

If you're looking for an eventual replacement for Gerald Green who brings exactly what Gerald brought, then P.J. is your man.

At the 14th or 18th spot, Hairston would be a reach. But at the 27th spot, he would be a great value.

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