Mar 17, 2013; Greensboro, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard P.J. Hairston (15) reacts in the second half. The Hurricanes defeated the Tar Heels 87-77 in the championship game of the ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Draft: P.J. Hairston can score but comes with red flags


Strengths

Physically a brick wall at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, P.J. Hairston has the body of a ready NBA player and could be the draftee most used to the professional game at this point. His D-League stint this year saw the North Carolina product average 21.8 points on 45 percent field goal shooting, numbers that stack up well for a volume shooter. Hairston shot 36 percent from three-point range with the Texas Legends and has the potential to become a strong defender of either the 2 or 3 spots in the league.

“He’s strong, he can get it up,” said Suns coach Jeff Hornacek when Hairston worked out for the team on Thursday. “He shoots it from deep. He’s got a high arc so he can get it above everybody. That’s hard to do. Usually when a guy gets tired, you lose your strength to get your shot.”

Weaknesses

Hairston started out hot in the D-League before coasting to the finish, and it’s that lack of consistent effort he’ll have to overcome to produce in the NBA. Because he’s not a fantastic athlete, Hairston could use some work in becoming more than a jump shooter, and at that he could stand to improve his feel for the game — he often times would force shots rather than look for teammates or run the offense. The biggest question of all is in regards to Hairston’s character. He was dismissed from North Carolina after allegedly accepting illegal benefits and also being pulled over and cited for marijuana possession.

“I just try to look at it like the past,” Hairston said this week. “I kind of look past it. I kind of put all those things aside and started looking at the future. I feel like, once I did that, it made everything easier on me and not have to worry about everything that happened in the past.”

X-factor

Immediately, Hairston could fix his lapses in effort to become a dangerous scorer. He has a head-start on many of his peers having played professionally in the D-League, and a lot of his success or failure will come down to how he plays within a team. That comes both offensively, where he could improve his IQ, to defensively, where he will have to be locked in and familiar with team defensive concepts. That’s not to say he didn’t do that in two years under coach Roy Williams, who put his name behind Hairston even after the school refused to reinstate him this past season.

So far in the draft process, Hairston appears to be selling himself as a two-way player.

“I feel like I can put the ball in the basket and I can be a defensive problems for many teams,” Hairston said. “I feel that every night I want to guard the best player.”

How would he fit on the Suns

Like any other NBA team, the Suns would surely be happy to bring on a talented shooter who could eventually grow into a similar bench role as Gerald Green (though obviously without the ability to create his own shot so easily). Hairston has much individual offensive potential but although he might be limited by his lack of playmaking skills, he’d at least have to prove that he’s committed to playing team-first basketball. If the Suns think he could do that, then they might give Hairston some thought with their 27th overall pick. He is currently slate to go 24th by Draft Express.

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  • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

    Lets not sugar-coat his arrest for possession. He was stopped with two 20 year-old friends and the police found 1 1/2 ounces of marijuana divided between two baggies and and three cigar blunts. They also found a 9mm handgun and ammunition.

    This stop tied him to receiving “improper perks” as none of the three were old enough to rent the car and it wasn’t rented in any of their names. In fact Hairston didn’t even have a driver’s license.

    My biggest issue isn’t the incident itself but the fact he is such s stupid criminal. If you are driving around in a car with drugs and a weapon, LET THE GUY WITH A LICENSE DRIVE! They were stopped for a routine license check.

    Under Jerry Colangelo that would be enough to warrant a pass on this kid especially since he doesn’t appear to have a great attitude nor All-Star written on him.

    Look at Michael Beasley. Six years and four stops later (twice with Miami) he is sitting at the end of the Heat bench in a suit.

    • NBA_Scout

      Everything in your account of what was in the car is incorrect. Another person unable to read through the smoke and mirrors of how the media disseminates information. There is a difference between an individuals police report and a checkpoint incident report. Marijuana was found under the floor mat in the 3rd row of seats. The driver with license was drunk! Lucky for Hairston that NBA executives have the brain capacity to find out the actual facts before making a decision based on what are the perceived facts. If you or anyone else who doesn’t have the actual facts knew exactly what went on in this investigation there would be a different mindset. And the improper perks didn’t start with Hairston and he certainly was not the only person on the team and many teams before that received the same perks from the same person!

      • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

        Seriously? My account? I only used the facts provided by every major media outlet. So there weren’t two 20 year-old friends of Hairston in the car?

        So the police actually only found 43.2 grams of marijuana in the car instead of three cigar blunts and 1 and 1/2 ounces divided between two baggies?

        That discrepancy is the result of the differences between the checkpoint incident report and the police report. So how was there such a dramatic change between the two? Could that be the direct result of coach Roy Williams supporting Hairston and possibly influencing the police who wrote their report?

        I mean police in this country would never do such a thing now would they? (sarcasm)

        So it was alright for Hairston to be receiving perks from boosters or convicted felons such as Haydn Thomas because other student athletes were doing the same thing? (sarcasm)

        So Hairston isn’t stupid for driving around in a car rented by Haydn Thomas’s girlfriend without a driver’s license with drugs and a handgun in the car because his friend was too drunk to drive? (sarcasm)

        While the exact details such as the weight of the marijuana might have differed but not much else. I never specified the exact location within the car that the police found the marijuana. So what you are inferring is that the three young men in the car were given the rental car with a half a gram of marijuana hidden under the rear seat without their knowledge. Sure, we all believe that.

        Just like we all believe that it was merely a coincidence that a 9mm handgun with a magazine with 9 rounds of ammunition was laying on the ground outside of the vehicle.

        All of this is great for Hairston’s attorney as all of the charges have been dropped but it doesn’t change a thing about Hairston’s character flaws, morals, values or poor decision making. If the media reported such defamatory issues about Hairston on unsubstantiated police reports he has a million dollar lawsuit. I haven’t heard a word about one yet.

        NBA executives have the brain capacity to make any player look like Grant Hill if they can make money off of him. It appears that you are the one struggling with the “smoke and mirrors” of reality and B.S. The fact that Hairston put himself in this position is all that needs to be taken from this incident.

        We can take this even further if you like but your naivety will probably prevent you from inferring what needs to be inferred. USA Today has published a “Whistleblower’s” account of academic dishonesty surrounding UNC and Roy Williams. Allegedly one of his players could not even read.

        The Whistleblower, a former tutor, conducted research that showed out of 183 UNC players between ’04-’12, 60% of the student athletes read between the 4th and 8th grade levels. 8 to 10% read below the 3rd grade level. But of course this is all smoke and mirrors used to misrepresent the reality of what the media is reporting on. Because we all know that college sports is all about ensuring the students get a education and not declare for the draft after one year of college in an attempt to hit the million dollar rookie contract..

        Anything else?