The Denver Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly has been on the record saying that the 11th pick, the team holds in this summer’s NBA Draft will not have a huge impact on the team in the upcoming season. Connelly expects the Nuggets to be healthy and in the playoffs with the teams current roster.
Denver is in need of a player who can get his own shot at any time, currently as the roster in constructed, Ty Lawson is the only player who can do that.
The depth of this year’s draft mirrors some of the best classes in recent memory, such as the stellar 2003 class that has produced eight All-Stars.
P.J. Hairston although projected as the 24th pick fits the Nuggets needs. Hairston at 6’5’’ and weighing 229 is a big combo guard with an NBA ready skill set. The 21-year-old Hairston has gone the road less traveled due to a dismissal from North Carolina in December, and has the most pro-level experience of any of the American-born prospects in the draft.
Scott Phillips of Inside Carolina spoke with Hairston during last month’s Draft Combine:
“Did you feel like you grew as a player by playing in the D-League?”
“Definitely. In Texas I put the ball on the floor a lot more. I became a better finisher. Not perfect, but a better finisher. That’s one of the things I’m working on. Taking the ball the length of the court for coast-to-coast finishes. Things that I didn’t do a lot at North Carolina (I focused on) in Texas. It’s led to my improvement and helped me be a more versatile player.”
In 26 games with the NBA Developmental League Texas Legends Hairston averaged 21.8 points per game, on 45 percent shooting including a 45-point explosion on Jan 29, against the Reno Bighorns.
Hairston is a project that has tremendous upside as a contributing scorer in the NBA, if Connelly truly doesn’t expect an immediate impact from a young draft pick, Hairston is a viable option when the Denver Nuggets pick 11th in this year’s draft.