The dream is over. After starting 0-3 in Vegas, the Hornets reeled off three straight wins to find themselves in the semi-finals of the Las Vegas Summer League tournament. A 83-79 loss to Houston Sunday night sends everyone representing Charlotte home.
The 26th overall pick led the Hornets with 27 points on 9-24 shooting from the floor. For a large portion of the second half Hairston was guarded by a much smaller Nick Johnson, so Charlotte looked to exploit that mismatch on the left block – Hairston was able to get to his right hand for numerous easy baskets. Although he led the team in scoring, P.J. clearly struggles with shot selection. Fadeaway jump-shots are far too prevalent in his offensive arsenal, and any scout would tell you this: ‘If you force Hairston to go left, or over his right-shoulder with his back to the basket, the ball will be coming off the rim.’ I’m just nit-picking now, but that’s what summer league is for, right?
There’s plenty of talent with Hairston – rhythm shooter that has the ability to really catch fire. Great strength for his position, and should be able to find advantages in ISO situations near the basket even in the league. That being said, the deficiencies are glaring – shot selection, court awareness, and lack of consistent defensive energy hold Hairston back at this juncture of his NBA career.
There’s no question that this is a skilled player at his size, but the axe is dull when breaking down the skill set – no doubt about that. Vonleh finishes summer league 21-72 (29%) from the floor, and I can’t tell you how many bunnies he missed near the rim. There are a few glaring bad habits: 1) Bringing the ball down to his waist when collecting to go up to the rim – very similar to what has frustrated many of us with Biyombo for years. 2) Not super on-board with taking the ball up into contact – always wants to bring the ball back down and manufacture some kind of scoop shot. Simply doesn’t work with the length that exist on a nightly basis in the NBA.
Defensively, Vonleh was asked to guard centers for most of summer league. He consistently got overpowered, but doesn’t show signs of trying to avoid contact on this end of the floor. He’s an exceptional rebounder (16 tonight) already due to his casting nets for hands, and his obvious length (7’4 wingspan).
My diagnosis for Vonleh is that he’s not ready for NBA play quite yet. I know you hear it a lot, but it’s true, he’s extremely raw. The skill-set is there. He shows signs of knowing exactly what he wants to do with the ball when he catches it – great footwork and above average ball handling at his position. Vonleh already reacts to the game at an above-average pace for an 18-year old, and that’s a very good sign that the actual skills will follow easier.
Davis averaged 8.8 PPG (51.2%) and 10.2 RPG in seven games in Vegas.
A menace on the glass. Good luck having to guard this guy and box him out on a consistent basis – just isn’t going to happen. The combination of his length, strength and willingness to out-fight on every possession make him a jack-of-all-trades kind of player – outside of shooting. He can’t do it. Like, at all.
I would be shocked if Davis doesn’t get a camp invite with an NBA team, and that team very well may be Charlotte after this summer league performance, but he’s simply not a fit with our roster as currently constructed.