The Heat selected P.J. Hairston with the No. 26 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday, although they reportedly traded that pick to the Hornets in exchange for the No. 24 pick, Shabazz Napier. Here’s a look at Hairston and how he fits with Charlotte:
Bio: Texas Legends/North Carolina | 21 years old | Shooting guard
Vitals: 6-5, 229 pounds
2013-14 stats (Texas Legends, NBA D-League): 21.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 45.3 FG%, 35.8 3FG%
Strengths: After a strong sophomore season at North Carolina in which Hairston averaged a team-high 14.6 points and 4.3 rebounds, NCAA rules violations sidelined him from the college game for 2013-14. The offensive potential he demonstrated in college translated to the D-League. Hairston’s combination of size, strength and capacity to attack the basket make him a tough cover in the half-court, as he’s able to drive past defenders, fight through contact and finish in traffic. Hairston, 21, is also a solid shooter, with range out to the three-point line and the ability to get his shot off in multiple ways. He shot 35.8 percent from beyond the arc and 87 percent from the free throw line last season.
Weaknesses: NBA personnel will have questions about Hairston’s off-the-court issues at North Carolina. Though he has the size, strength and wingspan (6-9) to be an effective defender, his effort is not consistent. Hairston needs to improve his decision making and ability to set up teammates, as he averaged 0.8 assists in 32.3 minutes. And while Hairston has demonstrated the ability to create off the dribble, he’s probably best served operating primarily as a shooter.
Team Fit: The Hornets trade down and still nab the shooter they needed after going with Noah Vonleh over Doug McDermott at No. 9. Hairston, though he’s battled off-court issues, will return to North Carolina after a terrific campaign in the D-League. Though there are doubts about what else he can do besides stroke it, the Hornets were a surprise last year and get another piece that could help them sooner rather than later. Charlotte will hope Hairston stays out of trouble and will let him space the floor for Al Jefferson down low.