PJ Hairston is an interesting case. After a fantastic year in the D-League and arguably being the best player on the Charlotte Hornets Summer League team (with room to grow), Hairston has shown that he may be a better pro than collegiate player.
That’s not a slight either. Hairston was a great college player, but his off the court issues always left you thinking what if?
Hairston has his issues no doubt–with fake agents, punching high school seniors at the Y, etc. But if you simply look at his ability, the dude can play.
Here are some realistic expectations for PJ Hairston in his rookie year and beyond.
ROOKIE YEAR EXPECTATIONS
Minutes: 10-12 // Points: 8 ppg // 3 pt percentage: 35%
I think Hairston will be a specialist in his rookie year. I think Shooting Guard was the Charlotte Hornets weakest position last year, it could be their best this year. Hairston will fight for time with Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson, and Gary Neal. Stephenson and Henderson can play some 3 in small ball I believe. But Hairston will mostly be a 3 point specialist until his game develops more.
At this point, I expect him to run off lots of screens and have the green light to fire. Hairston doesn’t have the handle or creating ability to score on his own yet. I think he could play some shooting guard in line ups with the starters as doubles to Al Jefferson will leave him wide open. He could also be the corner three guy after penetration from Stephenson or Kemba Walker creates much-needed spacing.
I expect Hairston to struggle with turnovers, defense, and shot selection. He has all the tools, especially defensively with great length. I think Coach Clifford could help PJ Hairston reach his full ceiling on the defensive end in a few years.
I think Hairston will probably be the 9th or 10th guy on a deep Charlotte Hornets roster. He’s a 2nd unit kind of guy. But if he gets hot, he has the ability to score in bunches and he could be a crunch time guy for a team desperate for 3 point shooting.
BEYOND ROOKIE YEAR EXPECTATIONS
PJ Hairston reminds me a lot of JR Smith, minus Smith’s extreme athleticism. Hairston is a knucklehead, but he can play. He will have moments of greatness and take over ability, and sometimes he will just make you shake your head.
Physically, Hairston reminds me a lot of another Charlotte Hornet–Lance Stephenson. Hairston is long, wide, and strong. He can finish through contact despite limited athletism. But he doesn’t have the handle that Stephenson has or his defensive ability–yet. He has all the potential to be very good “3 and D” type player. He can be a good 6th man on a playoff team in time.
I believe Hairston if coached up and fully matured can average something in the ball park of 15 points per game. However, if he never overcomes the integrity issues, defensive lapses, poor shot selection, and ball handling weaknesses–he will ultimately only be an average rotation player who is a 3 point specialist.