- In today's NBA there's a bit of a "worst kept secret." Team's are desiring a combination of a four & small ball five that can stretch the floor. Well, this draft class might have one of the more intriguing players for that mold. Insert PJ Washington, a 6'8" forward with an impressive wingspan that has developed into an intriguing threat from outside. Now I will be the first one to tell you that early on in Washington's career at Kentucky...I was not impressed. I wasn't as high on Washington as a lot of NBA talent evaluators. He didn't seem to be much of a factor on the offensive side of the ball and looked like a player that would struggle to carve out a consistent role contributing to an NBA team. Then...Washington returned for his Sophomore year at Kentucky, and during the year everything seemed to click. NBA scouts and talent evaluators were pleased to see Washington return for another year, as he looked like a prototypical candidate that needed more seasoning at the collegiate level. After his Sophomore campaign, it's safe to say that Washington hit a home run with his decision.
- I'm always so picky with the potential small ball forward, as I would prefer them to be 6'9" and up. So it irritates me slightly that Washington is listed at 6'8" but the one thing that makes this better is his impressive wingspan. Numerous times on tape you'll see that wingspan come to use as well as Washington's underrated athleticism. He's a quick leaper that can get up in a hurry in his 2nd and even 3rd jumps. Might be something small to some, but it makes a heap of difference when Washington is aggressive around the basket.
BY THE NUMBERS
- I LOVE IT WHEN PROSPECTS PROGRESS ACROSS THE BOARD. There's a lot of good to see in Washington's numbers. First, the spike in FGA per game is good, especially when you see how much his shooting increased across the board. That 3P% spike is jaw-dropping and you can see that Washington put in a lot of extra time to develop his offensive versatility. The PER spike is also impressive for all you nerds out there.
AT MISSISSIPPI STATE 2.09.19
- As we stated before, it was a big year for PJ Washington to show NBA evaluators that he can offer offensive versatility at the next level. The first step in that process was improving his outside shooting. We get a perfect look here at Washington taking his time from downtown. Remember, Washington saw his 3P% jump almost 20% in one year. Impressive.
FREE THROW FORM
- The next step for Washington's progress would be improving his FT%. Here we get a good look at his form. It's nothing too elaborate and should improve with repetition and upper body strength. You can see a little bit of a hitch/hesitation in his load up, but that might be a small tweak for a shooting coach.
- Throughout his development, Washington has added a couple of nice "go-to" moves in his bag. He's shown a nice display of touch when making shots attacking the rim. Here we get a good look at a running hook while off the dribble.
- There's going to be a number of these clips in this FILMROOM because it's so important especially to PJ when evaluators might turn away from his "undersized" tag. He has the quick leaping ability and wingspan to be a factor around the rim at the next level. Notice how quick he is in his 2nd and 3rd jump attempts here. I like that Washington gets the rebound at the highest point then keeps the ball up before he finishes. With so many young players around the rim in this situation, you would often see a power dribble to gather. Not here big fella, go right back up with it.
VS TENNESSEE 2.16.19
LOW POST GAME PART I
A good taste of the versatility that Washington offers right here. This isn't anything fancy, but this is PJ's bread and butter. Nice little quick jump hook here in the lane showing us some good touch.
LOW POST GAME PART II
- Another look at Washington going to work in the post. Throughout most of the game, Washington faced Admiral Schofield in one on one situations. Schofield has underrated length and often would be able to outmuscle his opponents. Washington does a great job of setting up Schofield with a quick shoulder hesitation, allowing him a window to get another jump hook up.
QUICK LEAPER & LENGTH PART I
- Again, another example of the 2nd and 3rd jump ability of PJ. Some might question the initial shot selection, but PJ makes up for it in a hurry. Great rebound with the off hand and recognition to finish on the other side of the rim. Again, no dribble needed to go back up. And-one.
VS AUBURN 3.31.19
RUNNING THE FLOOR
- Keep an eye on Washington in this clip. Notice how quickly he's able to get down the floor and then it's liftoff time. A great example of PJ's ability to get up here.
- Washington's not known as a shot blocker, even though he averaged 1.2 blocks per game, but this is an impressive clip showing his ability to read the defense. A great slip here by the Auburn pick setter, and Washington realizes he's got to make a play here to prevent an easy two. The scoreboard also comes into factor here. This was an elite 8 game and Auburn gets a bucket here they extend their lead to 6 with a little more than 5 minutes to play. Great job of PJ to block this one up top.
QUICK LEAPER & LENGTH PART II
- Yep, another perfect example of the multiple jumps. Big time effort play here by PJ when Kentucky needed it the most. Notice the score. Tie ball game in crunch time, PJ trying to make a play for his team when they need it the most. A great tough drive here and PJ doesn't give up after the first effort. Great job of securing the "loose ball" and going up with touch.
PJ Washington made the right decision to return for his Sophomore year and he's going to benefit in a big way. Washington will have an important draft process, like many other prospects, and he's a name that might slip through the draft talks but I wouldn't be surprised to hear his name earlier than expected on Draft Day. With Washington's recent offensive versatility development, there's serious intrigue to him becoming a valuable weapon in multiple line up configurations for his next team. As of now, PJ Washington sits 17th on our big board.