P.J Washington and the Celtics

P.J Washington – 15.2 points – 7.5 rebounds – 1.8 assists – 52.2 FG% – 42.3 3PT% – 5.1 FTA – 66.3 FT% – 1.2 blocks – 0.8 steals

Birthday: August 23, 1998
Height/Weight: 6-8 – 228 pounds
School: Kentucky
Position: Forward
Wingspan: 7’2.25
Standing Reach: 10.5

P.J Washington raised quite a few eyebrows when he returned to Lexington for his sophomore season in lieu of declaring for the draft. Perhaps it had more to do with the class ultimately being stacked with centers that carried higher upside than Washington. Or Washington believed there’s facets to his game he’s yet to have improved.

During the waning days of his high school career Washington only visited three schools prior to committing to Kentucky. The University of Nevada and the University of North Carolina. For someone like Washington, a seamless fit in how the modern NBA uses versatile stretch forward/big he certainly picked the coach who’d constrain him the most. Despite shooting 42 percent from three-point  his lowly 78 attempts leave me worried if it’s all smoke and mirrors. Kentucky coach John Calipari hasn’t been very fond of bigs shooting threes. The notorious case is how he used Karl Anthony-Towns.

However, coach Cal inspires trust amongst his players who aren’t the big names you’d see on ESPN. Names like Willie Cauley-Stein and Tyler Ulis enjoyed successful sophomore campaigns and arguably saw their draft stock rose as a result despite age being the biggest factor in the scouting process. Up until late March Washington was positioned on the fringes of the lottery before the rise of Sekou Doumbouya, Jaxson Hayes, Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke leapt over him, according to ESPN’s latest mock projections. Fortunately the prognosticators at ESPN believe Washington will still be on the board when the Celtics turn comes at 14.

Comparing Washington’s freshman campaign to his sophomore one the clearest thing that comes to my mind is the growth of his role in his second season. The departing forwards on the roster (Kevin Knox, Jared Vanderbilt). Overall shot attempts are up from 7 to 10.4. Usage rate jumps from 20.8 to 25.8. His individual offensive rating went from a below-average 110.1 to a well above-average 119.5. As far as refining his skills on the court Washington made the best choice for himself to return to college.

Washington shot nearly 55 percent on his 2-point attempts and flashed potential to be a serious pick-and-pop threat from deep. Watching him against Tennessee I was taken aback at the moves this man has in his arsenal. Scoring in the 95th percentile (1.391 points per possession) on catch-and-shoot threes. 1.323 PPP on guarded shots and 1.455 on unguarded shots. Though the sample size is small Washington’s stroke and mechanics leaves the promise of him growing into an All-Star down the road. Washington’s high release makes his shot nearly unblock-able. On the inside Washington’s jump hook scores a 1.294 PPP

Kentucky scores 1.694 PPP on 36 possessions in which Washington passes out of the post. That’s in the 99th percentile. His passing is an underrated nugget to his game the issue being his apparent selfishness and inability to overcome his tunnel vision.

Washington grades out as below-average on defense despite his 7-3 wingspan. He’ll need to move his hips more swiftly and work on closing out harder.

I relate him to a more fluid Kelly Olynyk. Though shorter than Olynyk Washington possesses a high BBIQ to compensate for his shortcomings on defense. Like Olynyk Washington can survive on the perimeter on both ends of the floor and holds a wide array of moves such as pump fakes, spin and counter moves to get to wherever he wants to on floor.

Author: sailboatstudios

Hack. Amateur. Professional quitter.

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