On Saturday night in Austin, P.J. Hairston began his long journey to the NBA Draft by making his D-League debut with the Texas Legends.
It didn't take long for the former Tar Heel to get his feet wet, as he checked in with 3:03 remaining in the first quarter and on his first possession as a Legend, he grabbed an offensive rebound. Just under a minute later, he scored his first points off of a nice drive to the basket and then, he hit a three-pointer a couple of possessions later. In the opening 20 seconds of the second quarter, he knocked down his second three of the night, giving him eight points in his opening four minutes of pro-ball.
It was a hot start for Hairston, who ended the first-half with 10 points off the bench. He also looked good on the defensive end, helping out his teammates by cutting off lanes to the basket, boxing out opposing forwards, hustling back on defense and poking away a few steals with his quick hands, which helped the Legends keep the Toros to a total of 36 first-half points on 32.6 percent shooting from the floor.
Hairston did more of the same in the second-half and ended the night as the leading scorer for the Legends in their victory, scoring 22 points in 28 minutes off the bench. He shot 9-for-16 from the field and 4-for-9 from three, and recorded a game-high six steals. While he hoisted up a few questionable shots from deep, most of his attempts came within the flow of the Legends' offense, which is promising considering that this was his first game of organised basketball since UNC lost to Kansas in the second-round of the NCAA Tournament last March. He showed little rust and a lot of effort on both ends of the court.
With Ricky Ledo on assignment from the Dallas Mavericks and Devin Ebanks being on the cusp of getting a call-up, the Texas Legends are stacked with talent this season. Add P.J. Hairston to the mix and you're looking at one of the most dynamic backcourts the D-League has to offer. However, unlike Ledo and Ebanks, Hairston will be a Legend for the season - unless he gets traded or waived, for some reason - because he cannot be called up by an NBA team. Therefore, if the Legends happen to lose any of those aforementioned players, they'll always have Hairston there to pick up the slack. And based on his debut against the Toros, he looks ready to carry that load.
Just wanna thank God again for this opportunity ☝️— PJ Hairston (@Mr_Hairston15) January 16, 2014
Hairston will play his next game with the Legends on Friday against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. You can watch the game live on YouTube.