Keith SchlosserThough the Knicks do not currently own a pick in this month’s NBA Draft, they’ve still been one of the more active teams in working out some intriguing prospects. Phil Jackson is committed to acquiring a selection or two in the coming weeks.
Apparently, such determination was enough to convince PJ Hairston and his representation that working out for New York would be worth his while. He’ll play in front of Jackson and company on Thursday (Goodman, June 3).
Most recently, the Knicks have been keeping an eye on those potential second-rounders or even some talented players likely to slip through the cracks and go undrafted. With NBA Summer League coming up, it would be beneficial for the team to pursue such youngsters.
Even so, Hairston, himself, is a completely different animal with a leg up on some of the Knicks’ other discussed targets. The 21-year-old has been widely regarded as a future first-round pick for quite some time. Despite a suspension and subsequent ousting from North Carolina, Hairston arguably upped his draft stock even further this past season in the NBA D-League.
As a member of the Texas Legends, Hairston had the opportunity to match up against past NBA pros, fringe players, and current big league assignees on a nightly basis. Having played quite well, the youngster averaged 21.8 points (on 45 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep), 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals as a minor leaguer.
Hairston is one of the more interesting players in the draft, and his time playing at the D-League level only further validated his immense amount of potential. He’s athletic and has good instincts. A rather bouncy player, he can run the floor well and likes to serve as an outside scoring threat while spreading the floor.
Someone who can do a handful of things relatively well, Hairston can keep defenses guessing by hitting opponents in a number of different ways. His versatility would make him a nice complement to the likes of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith.
If nothing else, such interest in a player of Hairston’s caliber signifies that the Knicks mean business. Being involved on draft day remains an obvious priority. And although the Legends’ stud is expected to be picked in the first-round, nothing is guaranteed. Fellow draft eligible swingman Glen Rice Jr. slipped to the Wizards in the second round of last year’s NBA Draft, despite emerging as D-League Finals M.V.P. just weeks prior.