clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A closer look at new Pistons big man Cameron Bairstow

Pistons trade for 25 year old Aussie big man - but will he stick?

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight year, the Pistons made a trade with a Central Division team for a big man during the NBA Finals. However, the Spencer Dinwiddie for Cameron Bairstow is less likely to make as much of an impact as last year's Ersan Ilyasova deal.

So you're probably wondering, just who is this Cameron Bairstow guy anyway?

Since being drafted by the Bulls in the second round in 2014, we haven't seen much of him. He's spent a little time on the floor in Chicago accomplishing little of note, spent a little time in the D-League accomplishing little of note.

It was during his senior year at University of New Mexico that folks got an idea of what kind of player Bairstow might be.

Bairstow was recruited from Australia during the Steve Alford days of UNM as part of an excellent freshman class that included Tony Snell, Kendall Williams, and Alex Kirk. With so much talent around him, Bairstow tended to be a bit left behind.

It wasn't until his junior year when Drew Gordon departed that Bairstow finally received minutes, but he was still just a underwhelming supporting cast member behind his classmates. Before his senior year, Alford departed to UCLA and Craig Neal took over as coach. Neal handed Bairstow the keys.

After never averaging double digits in his first three seasons and shooting just 47 percent, Bairstow exploded as a senior. He averaged 20 points per game on 55 percent shooting, carrying the Lobos to a 27-7 record. The guy who had never averaged double digit scoring only failed to crack double digits once that season.

He did most of his work on offense out of isolation, with an unusual combination of mobility and ability to put the ball on the floor for a player his size. His versatile scoring ability to knock down mid-range jumpers or post his man up also opened up opportunities to get to the line, where he was a 73 percent shooter. That's always an important factor for any player potentially backing up Andre Drummond.

Bairstow handled such a major load for UNM's offense with a 30 percent usage percentage, the Lobos didn't ask much of him defensively. They were mostly able to hide him with Alex Kirk, a physical center.

Without the same ability to dominate the ball the way he did during that successful season at New Mexico, it's easy to see why Bairstow might struggle in the NBA. He never really thrived as a role player in college, nor has he at the next level. The hope was that his mid-range shooting could extend to three point range, but there's no indication that's the case at this point. He's attempted just 7 three point shots between the NBA and D-League and only made one.

Then at the end of the day, he's a 25 year old player with six years of experience between the NBA, D-League, and NCAA, and only one of those seasons was a good one. It's fair to be dubious about Bairstow's ability to hang around with the Pistons for too long.

The Pistons have until July 25 to waive Bairstow's unguaranteed contract and Jeff Bower mentioned that the cap benefits to the Pistons as one of the elements of the trade they found attractive. And Bairstow isn't likely to get many chances to impress the coaching staff, as he won't be able to join the Summer League due to commitments with his national team.

Also of note, he seems to be the first player ever to step on a NBA court named Cameron - serving as a trailblazer for the likes of Cameron Payne.

Now your thoughts.