What a matchup we have today, as the first round winds down. Nik Stauskas -- one of the most prolific perimeter scorers in the draft -- of Michigan, faces P.J. Hairston from the Texas Legends. This is sure to be a great clash today in the tournament.
As always, I'm joined by James Plowright of TheLotteryMafia.com to discuss these prospects. Enjoy!
Evan: In today's matchup, we have Nik Stauskas and P.J. Hairston squaring off. Lets start off with Stauskas first, James. What's your overall thoughts on him and how he fits in with Charlotte?
James: Stauskas is my number one target for Charlotte at nine, that is assuming Gordon, Smart or Vonleh don't slide on draft night.
Stauskas' big appeal is his ability to stretch the floor, something that is a desperate need for Charlotte. Stauskas shot 5.8 threes per game last year converting at an impressive 44 percent. What stands out from taking a closer look at Stauskas's game is his versatility from beyond the arc, not only can he make a set shot, but he made a very impressive number of pull up threes and took a lot of shots from 1-2 feet beyond the college three point line. If you want to see how consistent and reliable his form is, I advise you to watch this:
Most people know Stauskas as a good shooter, but I still feel his ballhandling and passing ability are underrated. It is Stauskas' ability to create for others and himself that I feel separates himself from the other wings who are projected to be available at the ninth pick. Sure his 3.3 assists per game don't scream "distributor" but having watched Stauskas, his assist stats don't do him justice. Michigan played the majority of the year with Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan as their bigs with McGary out injured. Both these players are sub-par offensive guys and were not able to capitalize on many of the dishes supplied by Stauskas after they had set a pick and rolled to the basket. Also, many of the plays where Stauskas found an open man resulted in the opposing team's defense to over-play the recovery and foul, meaning Stauskas was robbed of his assists. With Kemba Walker at times being more effective playing off the ball, Stauskas would have the ability to initiate the offense.
Defensively, he is lacking; Just watch his "effort" while trying to guard Gary Harris in this video:
However, he measured favorably at the combine possessing good length for an NBA wing at 6-foot-6.5". He could even spend some time at small forward, if Clifford wanted to go small.
Despite these setbacks, I see him having the athletic ability and work ethic to improve in this area. He displays his athleticism (and work ethic in his commitment to change his body from his first year to his sophomore season) well in this video:
So, yeah, I love this kid.
Evan: Charlotte is in dire need of perimeter shooting and Stauskas definitely fits the bill. How would he fit into Clifford's defensive playbook, though?
The offensive need is met here with him, but defense is what I'm looking at for him to improve on, a lot.
James: He is a pretty poor defender right now. Stauskas has poor instincts and doesn't always look locked-in when playing on the defensive end.
However, unlike most three-point marksman, Stauskas does have good size for his position and athleticism ability. I think he has the tools to be an average defender. Also, he generally has a high basketball IQ.
Michigan is known for having one of the most complex offenses in college basketball under head coach John Beilein. This basketball IQ should help Stauskas understand what Clifford would want from him. He figures to be a quick learner.
I do feel that Stauskas' defensive shortcomings could be one reason Cho may go in the Gary Harris direction, not that I would agree with that.
Evan: How does Stauskas' offensive firepower fit into Charlotte? For a perimeter-starved team, I think it's perfect.
James: I have mentioned a lot already about his ability to score the ball from three. Obviously this is an area of need for the Hornets. If I had a penny for every time I heard Clifford mention the word spacing last year, then I would be a very rich man.
I think keeping Henderson on the roster while having Stauskas is still possible. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if the front office felt having Neal, Henderson and Stauskas would create a log jam at the two and looked to trade Neal. I know many Hornets fans think Henderson is a bad fit for this roster, so some may want him moved instead of Neal. However, Neal has an expiring contract which make him easier to move. Secondly, Henderson has been with the organization a long time. He is the team's co-captain with Big Al and has shown good loyalty during his time in Charlotte. I know in the world of NBA 2K14 this doesn't matter, but I think the organization really like what Henderson brings on and off the court. He has been a loyal, high-character guy, something that many small franchises like Charlotte's value.
So I got a little off topic, But my point is I think he fits in well and there would be ample playing time for him to take advantage of. I wouldn't even be surprised to see him in the game at the end of the fourth. Clifford always said you start the game with your best defensive unit, end it with your best spacing unit -- hence why Neal and Chris Douglas-Roberts played a lot down the stretch.
Evan: From a metrics point of view, Stauskas fits the mold.
His offensive rating of 127.2 points per 100 possessions is one of the best in the draft class, but his defense at around 109 points per 100 possessions definitely needs some work on the next level. His 6.2 win shares is one of the highest in the draft class, too.
What's your overall thoughts on these numbers with Stauskas?
James: Those stats are pretty much what I would expect, and they just re-enforce what I and most people already know: Stauskas is a very good offensive player and a below average defender.
I guess the more useful stat is the win shares.
With the likes of Glen Robinson III and Caris LeVert (who I think will be a lottery pick next year), some may argue that Stauskas was simply a beneficiary of being on a loaded roster, but the win share of 6.2 puts this theory to bed.
Again, due to work, we had to cut this one short. James has a scouting report of Hairston, though, below. Sorry for the inconvenience! - Evan
James: P.J. Hairston looks like another good fit for Charlotte. In fact, anyone who shoots a decent percentage from three and doesn't play the point guard or center position does!
Hairston looked to be a very strong outside scorer with the Texas Legends. He has the physical tools that would allow him to play both the two and the three for the Hornets -- this would certainly make it easier for him to break into the rotation.
Hairston started his D-League career on fire, but by the end of the season he ended up shooting just 36 percent from three. However, considering he transitioned to a new (harder) league with a longer three point line halfway through the season with no training camp while being guarded as the team's primary scoring option, I think that fact he shot 36 percent is actually pretty spectacular. However, I will point out that the level of defense in the D-League is not all that high. In the majority of games, each team scored over 100 points. So, I would take his impressive statistics, especially points scored, with a grain of salt.
Hairston isn't just a one dimensional shooter, though: 38-percent of his offense came in the paint, where he converted on 57 percent of those attempts. This shows that he has the ability to put the ball on the floor and use his size, quickness and athleticism to get to the basket and convert. Just 6.25 percent of Hairston's shots came in the midrange last year, and this shows one of two things: 1.) He has no confidence in his midrange jump shot or 2.) He understands the long two is an inefficient shot. Considering how good a shooter Hairston is, and the fact he converted his midrange shots, I would give him the credit he deserves and say it was option number two.
One area of concern is his lack of assists (just 0.8 per game). It appears Hairston became as Bill Simmons would say "A Heatcheck Guy."
Hairston had zero assists in 11 games as a member of the Legends, a worrying statistic indeed. If P.J. was going to fit into Clifford's system he would have to be a more willing passer and learn to create for others. He certainly wouldn't be able to initiate the offense the same way Stauskas could.
On the defensive side of things, Hairston has good tools. He checks the boxes in terms of size, speed and athleticism.
I see Hairston being your typical rookie in the NBA -- struggling to defend without fouling at first, but getting better during the year as he learns what the refs do and don't call. I would certainly put him ahead of Stauskas in this particular area, but that is more to do with Stauskas' deficiencies rather than Hairston's good defensive play.