Cameron Bairstow isn’t one of the best known names in the 2014 NBA Draft. In fact, most casual basketball fans likely have never even heard of him. He’s a 6′ 10″ power forward/center who played four seasons for the University of New Mexico Lobos, and is currently rated by Draft Express as one of the top 100 NBA prospects for 2014, though he just barely snuck in at number 94. While he’s not the type of player who is going to set the world on fire if he gets a shot in the league, he is the kind of big man that always intrigues me, especially when thinking about whether or not there’s a role for him on this Nuggets roster.
Originally from Birsbane, Australia, Bairstow is a big, physical power forward who has a soft touch around the basket, a jumper that looks a bit unorthodox but is money from mid-range, and the strength and motor that makes him a headache to play against. During his final season at New Mexico, Bairstow finished in the top 20 in the nation in points, scoring average, and free throws. Scouts often compare Bairstow’s game to that of Luis Scola, in that the two are both space-eaters who can body-up on opponents and wear them down, forcing their match-ups to work on both ends of the court, and earn every point and rebound during the course of a game.
At a recent workout in Las Vegas, Bairstow displayed the fundamentals that made him one of the most consistent scorers in college basketball last season:
As you can see from the video, he’s a little heavy-footed and will never be confused with the fastest players on the court. At first glance, he doesn’t seem like a natural fit for the up-tempo style of basketball for which the Nuggets are famous. But keep in mind that Head Coach Brian Shaw seems intent on moving away from the run-and-gun style of play that defined the Nuggets for much of the George Karl-era, opting instead to move toward a slower tempo game that emphasizes a more balanced half court approach. While Bairstow probably wouldn’t thrive in the transition game, his style is ideal for the more deliberate half court sets.
More importantly, did you notice his touch from mid-range? That’s why this kid is so intriguing. Those are the kind of shots that are ALWAYS open in the NBA for guys his size. If Bairstow can come off the bench for 12 to 14 minutes a game, put a body on the opposing team’s starters and sap some of their energy by making them work on every single possession, and contribute 8 to 10 points a night through a combination of open 15-footers and put-backs, I guarantee he will find work in the NBA for the next decade.
With the Nuggets’ roster already heavy with bigs, I’m not sold on the idea of adding another power forward, especially one whose ceiling probably means he’ll be a career back-up at best. But Cameron Bairstow’s skill set is something we haven’t seen a lot of in Denver recently, and given the depth of most of the championship contenders in the Western Conference, it might make sense to add a player like him to the rotation.
What do you think, Nuggets fans? Do we need a player like Bairstow on the roster or do you think guys like him are a dime a dozen in the league? Share your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @TheSEShepherd.