Samuel Peter Hairston Jr. is a one trick pony if I ever saw one. The troubled rookie was drafted as potential help for our long-range shooting woes and Peter Jr. (for some reason, I find this a hilarious way to refer to a young and braggadocios NBA player, as opposed to the supposedly stylish “P.J.”) did everything to fulfill that role, besides declaring support for Antoine Walker’s cause and becoming an advocate for the invention of a 4-point shot (some of his looong looks might just count for 4 points).
To return to a formula I used during the season, I calculated what is Hairston’s “chucking rate” for the season. With 11.8 front court touches, per SportVU at nba.com, and 6.0 field goal attempts per game, PJ jacks up a shot every two times (1.97 to be exact) he touches the ball in the front court. This exercise excludes bigs since they’re much more likely to only touch the ball in situations where finishing the possession is the right course of action, the perfect example being Brandan Wright. Hairston having surpassed Shabbaz Muhammad (who is taking a shot for every 2.02 touches) since the last time I did this measurement, it seemed like he’s the clear favorite to take this unflattering title home.
Yet the Charlie Villanueva resurrection in Dallas proved to have been as extreme as it looks when watching a game as Charlie V’s “chucking rate” is at 1.93.
Peter Jr.’s trigger is so quick that it probably has reflected on our pace (96.78) whenever he is on the court. It’s the highest number among all Hornets players.
To be fair against Hairston, him shooting the three-ball is exactly what this team desperately needs. The small sample size (31 minutes) of him playing in the place of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the starters (Jefferson, Marvin, Stephenson and Kemba) yields the exact results you would expect – a great offense and a terrible defense (110.8 – 107.0).
Yet the offensive impact could be seen on the court. After Jefferson found him for a made three on his side of the post-up (a play that happens oh-so rarely with, let’s say, Gerald Henderson on the court)…
The problem is that he’s firing them up at a huge rate, yet is unsuccessful at it. He’ll be the ninth player in NBA history to shoot such a bulk of threes per 36 minutes and make less than 32% of them, per basketball-reference. Besides Aussie legend Shane Heal who gave the NBA a chance in his mid-20s, he’s the only rookie on the list which speaks to the over-confidence Hairston has.
Following a decent start to the season, Hairston’s percentages have dropped and forced his field goal percentage to hover dangerously close to the embarrassing 30% mark. PJ has made 24.1% of his threes during the last ten games and splendidly exhibited his ability to produce some amazingly horrid misses for a supposedly good shooter.
Besides that, Peter Jr. doesn’t offer much on offense. Per the fantastic basketball-reference whom I thank for another terrific regular season of NBA basketball (and adding ABA game-logs to their database!!!), 60.6% of his shots come from the three-point land. When he does attempt a different type of shot, it’s usually a tough off-the-dribble mid-range fade-away or a disappointing finish at the rim.
Hairston does have Harden-like subtle athleticism and strength, yet none of the trickery that his incredibly optimistic comparison has when attacking the paint. PJ has only successfully finished 34.8% of his attempts withing 3 feet of the basket. They usually lack any kind of sophistication that is needed to finish against NBA big men when barreling into them with his type of body.
Not to beat on a failed and flawed comparison, but Hairston does indeed remind you of James Harden, circa 2013-2014, on the defensive end. His attention span to executing defensive schemes and keeping track of his man is one of a nine-year old with ADHD who’s addicted to Grand Theft Auto (I wish I still had the free time in my life to finally play and complete GTA V) and ignores requests of his elders. If Hairston isn’t falling asleep off the ball and allowing back-door cuts or over-helping from the weak-side only to leave his man open for a three, then he’s somewhere having trouble at tracking his assignment through screens.
Closely monitor him on the defensive end and you’ll understand why his rookie pains have amounted to a defensive rating of 105.3, the worst on the team, barring (again) Troy Daniels.
Defense is the one place though where Hairston has demonstrated his athletic abilities, usually in the form of a sudden burst of speed for a steal or a leap from the side to reject somebody’s shot attempt.
These random plays make for at least some promise that Peter Jr. is invested in playing NBA-level defense. Overall, Hairston either badly needs to develop other areas of his game during the summer or have a more precise campaign of shooting the ball next season to stay in the league.
A wing three-point shooter will always interest NBA teams, yet a repeat performance of his season might result in Charlotte not picking up its team option for the 2016-17 season (we also have a team option for his fourth year, 2017-18). If this is his true ceiling of capabilities, he’s one year, a couple of training camp invites and D-League assignments away from a career in Europe. Erratic behavior like missing weight training sessions certainly doesn’t help his cause.
As a European I’m confused by your grade system. ForeignCredits.com tells me that his is the equivalent of receiving a grade of “4” in a scale of 1-10, the lowest successful grade in Latvia. Hairston gets it because of the benefit of the doubt I’ll give him as a rookie.