Coming into the 2014-'15 season, I was incredibly high on P.J. Hairston. Sure, he had gotten into some trouble at the University of North Carolina, but he played well in the D-League, and seemed to fill a team need.
Well, sometimes we make...miscalculations. Let's take a look back at Hairston's rookie season, and where he fits in this season.
Surely P.J. Hairston, known shooter, was able to help the team bereft of shooting.
This is not the shooting chart that you want to see from a player who was supposed to be a shooter. Hairston struggled from everywhere behind the line; except for the spot to the right of the break and the left corner. It wasn't Hairston's penchant for launching three pointers that landed him in Steve Clifford's dog house. It was the fact that him launching threes were indicative of him not playing in a manner that benefits the team, according to the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell.
Hairston took 3.6 three pointers per game, and somehow the biggest issue wasn't that he made 30.1 percent of them. Well, it kind of was, but there were bigger issues with them. According to NBA Stats, Hairston took his threes 45.7 percent of the time between 7-22 seconds. Worse yet, Hairston dribbled zero times on 56.6 percent of his long range attempts, and 55.8 percent of them being classified as catch and shoot situations. In short, Hairston would catch the ball behind the line, and launch away.
So, it should be no surprise that Hairston finished with a five percent assist percentage, or simply, that he only accounted for five percent of his team's assists while he was on the floor. Clifford, and Hornets fans, want the ball to move to find the best possible shot. Almost hilariously, Hairston averaged 0.5 assists and turnovers per game.
Too often last season, Hairston favored the look-and-launch before even thinking about making the extra pass to a teammate, especially since there was often a lot of time left on the shot clock when he got the ball. It was almost like Hairston saw the title of "shooting guard" next to his name, and thought that was all he was supposed to do.
On paper, Hairston should fit in pretty well as long as he's not being deactivated for work ethic reasons. The Hornets brought in Jeremy Lamb at shooting guard to do the things that Hairston can do. Then there is Troy Daniels, who was terrible and couldn't get on the court in stops in Houston and Minnesota before reaching Charlotte. Is Daniels really a 45.8 and 47.2 percent shooter? Probably not, but he's also likely better than what he was before. What this means for Hairston is that he's going to have to show the coaches in practice and off of the court because his playing time won't be guaranteed. Where Hairston winds up in the rotation will be entirely up to him, but reportedly showing up to camp 13 pounds lighter is an encouraging sign.
Areas for Improvement
Where Hairston winds up in the Hornets' rotation is up to him. Hairston needs to play more within a team concept and look for his teammates more often than he looks for his own shot. When the ball moves on a regular basis, it's contagious, and Hairston will be setup for better shots over time. As Clifford told The Charlotte Observer in March, Hairston just needs to continue to learn the NBA game, and not just try to get by on sheer talent alone.
We've seen Hairston rebound -- 4.8 per game for 36 minutes -- but being more of a distributor, and becoming the defender no one wants to face will earn him all of the minutes that he wants.