PJ Washington - Kentucky
Forward, 6’8”, 228 lbs, 20 years old
52.2 FG%, 42.3 3P%, 66.3 FT%
29.3 MIN 15.2 PTS, 7.5 REB, 1.8 AST, 0.8 STL, 1.2 BLK, 2.0 TOV
PJ Washington projects as a solid stretch four prospect out of one of the biggest blue-blood schools in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats. Washington put his name into the draft in 2018 but pulled his name in favor of returning for his sophomore season. He led a talented Wildcats team in scoring and helped anchor the interior of a defense that ranked first in the SEC in points allowed and 2-point field goal percentage.
Washington made the most of his return to Kentucky by increasing ever single one of his key stats, some significantly, while just playing two extra minutes per game. His shooting from deep saw the most substantial jump, hitting 42.3 percent on a decent volume of 2.2 attempts per game. Washington also upped his scoring from 10.8 to 15.2 from year one to year two.
It may not be the most fair thing to say, but staying two years at a powerhouse school like Kentucky is at least a small red flag. Also, Washington’s sub-70 percent career free throw percentage casts some doubt on his stellar 3-point percentage from this last years — especially since he shot 23.8 percent his freshman year.
One problem that could hurt Washington is his lack of height. His 7’2.25” wingspan helps to make up for the relatively short 6-foot-8 frame, but he still ranked ninth at the combine in standing reach among forwards.
Q&A with Jason Marcum of A Sea of Blue
I had the chance to speak with Jason Marcum from SB Nation’s Kentucky site A Sea of Blue. He likes PJ’s chances in the NBA as it moves to a five out style. PJ can definitely be a modern four in today’s NBA. Responses are Jason’s.
What strengths of PJ Washington will translate well to the NBA?
PJ is a force in the paint but he’s fast and agile enough to be an effective player on the fastbreak, which is a must in today’s NBA, even for power forwards/centers.
What weaknesses of Washington will need to be improved in the NBA?
Turnovers. PJ handles the ball a lot like a point forward, but he gives the ball away far too often, and NBA players with most size, athleticism and length will really take advantage of that if he doesn’t improve.
What role do you see Washington being in the NBA?
I think PJ can become a go-to player in the paint who can also stretch the floor while being a great defender. He might not do any one thing great, but he’s a very solid and complete big who should have a long NBA career.
Would you consider Utah a good landing spot for him?
Yes. I think he’d be a good replacement for Jae Crowder when he hits free agency next year. They both have similarities in their game, though PJ is more crafty when he gets the ball in the paint while also stretching the floor like Jae does and being a good defender in the paint and on the perimeter.