The LB Mock Draft: Thunder Pick PJ Hairston 21st overall

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

With the 21st pick in the LB Mock Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select P.J. Hairston from the Texas Legends of the D-League.

After his exile from UNC late last year, P.J. Hairston took his talents to D-League, where he averaged 21.8 points per game and became one of the more prolific scorers in the league.

The talent Hairston has is undeniable, just as it was when he was one of the better per-minute scorers in the nation during his sophomore season at UNC.   His ability to shoot -- both on catch and shoot situations when stationed in the corner as well as his incredible pull-up game -- are translatable skills that should be easy to fit onto an NBA roster.  Combine that with a good physical profile (6'9" wingspan, 8'5" standing reach, 37" max vertical) and you have quite a bit of potential for a coach to mold.

The molding part is the only real gotcha with Hairston.

I'm not even talking about the dismissed misdemeanor marijuana possession or the loaner cars he was caught driving.  Those aren't long term concerns of mine.

But while watching Hairston in the D-League, as much as his offensive potential was on display, so were some bad habits.  Contested shots early in the shot clock, leaking out before defensive rebounds were controlled to try to break away for easy points (he dropped from 7.4 rebounds per 40 minutes at UNC to 4.3 per 40 minutes at Texas), to extremely inconsistent effort on the defensive end.  Those are my biggest concerns.

This brings up many of the problems with using the D-League as a developmental sandbox.  There are some benefits, of course: NBA rules, more physically mature players to play against, team-controlled coaching (in some instances).  But there are some drawbacks as well.  With only 2 guys per team on NBA contracts and with 10 guys making NBA minimum wage auditioning for either the upcoming draft or to be signed to an NBA contract, developing guys in the constructs of team ball is sometimes difficult.  It's certainly not the panacea that some make it out to be.  Not yet, at least.

Still, at this stage of the draft there are concerns with any prospect, and there comes a point in time when Hairston's talents outweigh those concerns.  I believe that this is the point of the draft where that is the case.

In terms of fit with Oklahoma City, their overall depth allows them to take the best overall talent.  And while I expect them to continue to run a lot of two point guard sets with Reggie Jackson, they also signed Caron Butler late in the season and gave him 27 minutes per game as they weren't ready to fully turn that role over to Jeremy Lamb.  Wing scoring is an area that could help the Thunder, and Hairston should be able to contribute relatively soon.

It's worth noting that there have been rumors that the Thunder were very interested in Kristaps Porzingis.  Well, not only was he taken before either of the Thunder's first round picks (21 and 29) in our mock draft (17th to the Celtics), but he also just withdrew from the draft.  The Celtics re-do their pick and select Clint Capela, the power forward from Switzerland.  Don't worry about the swap, it's actually in the rule book that if a team makes a selection before the withdrawal deadline that they can re-do their pick.  We checked with Adam Silver.

Mike is up next with the Memphis Grizzlies.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Joel Embiid
2. Milwaukee Bucks - Andrew Wiggins
3. Philadelphia 76ers - Jabari Parker
4. Orlando Magic - Dante Exum
5. Utah Jazz - Noah Vonleh
6. Boston Celtics - Aaron Gordon
7. Los Angeles Lakers - Julius Randle
8. Sacramento Kings - Marcus Smart
9. Charlotte Hornets - Nik Stauskas
10. Philadelphia 76ers - Gary Harris
11. Denver Nuggets - Zach LaVine
12. Orlando Magic - Dario Saric
13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Kyle Anderson
14. Phoenix Suns - Doug McDermott
15. Atlanta Hawks - James Young
16. Chicago Bulls - Elfrid Payton
17. Boston Celtics - Clint Capela
18. Phoenix Suns - Adreian Payne
19. Chicago Bulls - Rodney Hood
20. Toronto Raptors - Tyler Ennis
21. Oklahoma City Thunder - P.J. Hairston
22. Memphis Grizzlies

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