PJ Washington Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • PJ Washington was the 12th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1].
  • Through the first 13 games of the season, the six-foot-seven post-up big has averaged 15.6 points per 40 minutes on 52.9% effective shooting but posted only a 16.6 PER[2].
  • He is getting his touches in the low post with his back to the basket and at the elbow area within Kentucky’s horns set. Though he’s shown a lack of lift and explosiveness with the ball, the 19-year-old[3] has managed to generate efficient offense down low thanks to the strength in his 243-pound frame.
  • On the other end, Washington is more effective close to the basket as well, though his rebounding has been subpar. And despite looking like an athlete who should be able to defend out in the perimeter, he’s struggled to stay in front and closeout to the three-point line properly.
    • His defensive rating is second worst on the team among rotation players[4].
  • ESPN ranks him 40th in its top 100.

BELOW THE FOUL LINE

  • Washington uses his strength well to get a deep seal in his spots, also being aided by having spent most of his time on the floor with Nick Richards in the lineup, as few opponents have two big men strong enough to matchup with both.
    • He’s posted 20.2% usage-rate over his 334 minutes.
  • Almost always relying on power moves to back his way into close range attempts, he doesn’t seem to have much versatility in his post game, yet to show anything in terms of shot fakes, head fakes and spin moves.
  • Facing up his man, Washington also plays bully-ball more often than not, though he has flashed a jumper off sizing up his man. His first step isn’t very quick and he hasn’t shown side-to-side shake or dribble moves, though he attempts a behind the back dribble every once in a while.
  • His brute force has been effective at the collegiate level. Able to maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact, he’s taken 51.8% of his shots at the basket and converted them at a 70.5% clip[5], despite the fact he lacks explosiveness elevating off one foot or two feet in traffic.
    • Washington has also shot 7.8 free throws per 40 minutes, while posting a 76.5% free throw rate.
    • He has struggled feeling double teams, though – turning it over on 20% of his possessions.
  • When he’s been kept from getting a good look at the basket, Washington has struggled with his touch on floaters to finish over length from the in-between area – missing 22 of his 33 two-pointers away from the basket.
    • He has, however, shown to be an adequate passer making a drop-off or a kick-out pass against the defense collapsing to him – assisting on 15.2% of Kentucky’s scores when he’s been on the floor. He’s also been an asset operating from the foul line inside zone defenses.
  • Washington doesn’t play with a high enough motor to be a volume offensive rebounder – collecting just 8.5% of Kentucky’s misses when he’s been in the game. But he has enough strength to win inside position and a seven-foot-three wingspan[6] to rebound outside his position, aside from showing a decent second jump, so when he goes for it, he can be productive.
    • A quarter of his shots at the basket have been putback attempts and he’s converted them at a 100% clip.
  • Washington has been a proactive rim protector, whether it’s stepping up to the front of the basket or coming off the weak-side in help-defense. He’s a quick leaper off two feet and has an eight-foot-nine standing reach[7] to challenge shots at the basket – averaging 1.9 blocks per 40 minutes.
  • Washington is often inattentive to his boxout responsibilities and though he does have long arms, he is not a high leaper to consistently chase the ball at a higher point than his opponents – collecting just 13.2% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor.

ABOVE THE FOUL LINE

  • Washington has started spacing out to three-point line a little more over the last few games but it’s still pretty rare. He has a decent catch-and-shoot stroke but a methodical release and poor touch on his shot. Opponents play off him and pack the lane.
    • He’s missed six of his eight three-point attempts and shot just 61.5% on 65 free throws.
  • Washington bends his knees some and has decent lateral quickness for someone his weight defending out in space but doesn’t get all that low in a stance and doesn’t slide laterally multiple times to stay in front all the way.
    • Though he looks like someone who should be an asset to pick up smaller players on switches, Washington needs to make more multiple effort plays in order for that to be the case.
  • Washington can run shooters off their shots at the three-point line but sells out to do so, sometimes even leaving his feet, which gives the opponent a free path to attack off the bounce and compromises the defense behind him.
  • Despite great length, he hasn’t shown many instincts many plays in the passing lanes or using his reach to make plays on the ball defending in the perimeter. His contributions through steals have been marginal.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] DOB: 8/23/1998

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to hoop-math

[6] According to the measurements at the Kentucky combine

[7] According to nbadraft.net

READ MORE: Nick Richards | Marques Bolden

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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