Inside P.J. Hairston's Early NBA D-League Dominance

P.J. Hairston is 21 years old, a month removed from college and 10 months removed from his last real game action. Until he joined the Texas Legends two weeks ago, he'd never been through the grind of a professional basketball road trip -- and certainly nothing that could compare to the four-games-in-six-days gauntlet that took him through three cities in the past week.

And he's averaging 27 points per game. He's shooting 51% from the field, 42.5% from three and 86.5% from the line -- off-the-charts efficiency that would only look better if not for a 1-for-9 clunker in his first back-to-back game. For all of the questions about his maturity off the court, he's proven to be mature beyond his years on the court.

A look inside the numbers:

--He's picking up where he left off. We'll never know what Hairston's junior season had in store, but the stats show that he was bound to make a leap no matter where he was playing. After a quiet freshman campaign, he gradually improved both his scoring and efficiency last season -- a sign that this may simply be part of the natural evolution of his game.

GamesPPGFG%3PFG%
First Two Months (2012)1212.438%34%
Last Three Months (2013)2215.745%42%

--Shot selection has been the key. 78% of Hairston's shots have come from either beyond the arc or within the restricted area. When you have the long-range stroke that he has, that's an efficient way to operate. He's been particularly locked in from the wings, making 14 of his 30 wing three-point attempts (see shot chart).

It's added up to the fifth-best true shooting percentage (67%) among NBA D-League perimeter players, and a stellar 1.6 points per shot, up from 1.3 last season.

--He's taking advantage of the NBA D-League's wide-open brand of basketball. Given college basketball's shorter games, shorter shot clock and more constricted offenses, a huge jump in raw numbers from the NCAA to the NBA D-League is natural. The traditionally fast-paced UNC Tar Heels look like Pat Riley's Knicks in comparison to NBA D-League teams; their 2012-13 average of 87.8 possessions per 48 minutes, 12th in the nation according to TeamRankings.com, would rank last in the NBA D-League by nine possessions.

The Legends, on the other hand, have averaged 104.5 possessions/48 minutes, the fourth-fastest pace in the league, during Hairston's five games. More possessions means more opportunities to score and likely less defense with the teams getting up and down the floor so often, which results in inflated stats. The style of play has been perfect for an athletic shooter like Hairston, helping make an already lethal scorer even more lethal: He's averaging 40.6 points per 48 minutes after averaging 29.7 last year.

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