PJ Washington Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • PJ Washington averaged 15.8 points per 40 minutes on 55.8% true shooting and posted a 16.7 PER[1] in 37 appearances last season.
  • Kentucky played the 12th toughest schedule in the country[2] and had a +9.9 pace-adjusted point differential in Washington’s 1,012 minutes[3].
  • Through the second half of the season, the six-foot-seven bruising big showed the more cerebral and skilled game he was known for before arriving in Lexington.
    • He took outside shots more comfortably, incorporated a little more finesse to his post up routine and started aiding the shot creation process with some passing more proactively.
  • On the other end, the 19-year-old[4] offered some more rim protection via verticality and flashed some intriguing positional defense but his lack of lift near the basket and general quickness out in the perimeter still kept him from being a meaningfully impactful defender.
  • Other than his one year of college basketball, Washington has 222 minutes with the United States National Team at the 2016 U18 FIBA Americas and 2017 U19 FIBA World Cup, 99 minutes at the 2015 Nike Global Challenge and 68 minutes at the 2016 adidas Nations of experience under his belt.
  • At this point, it’s hard to foresee how Washington fits in a modern lineup in the near future. He needs to improve a lot as a shooter to start drawing opposing big men out of the lane consistently, can’t play above the rim as a target for lobs, isn’t an asset to pick up smaller players on switches and doesn’t really protect the rim effectively just yet.

OFFENSE

  • The bulk of Washington’s offense came in the post, as he used the strength in his thick 236-pound frame[5] to set deep position consistently.
    • Later in the season, as opponents were able to match up with his size, Washington no longer relied on power moves 100% of the time and flashed some more skill.
      • He showed some fake pivots and head fakes to try getting his man out of position, though continued to almost always look for a right-handed hook within close range.
      • He can move his feet OK on pivot moves and his touch is pretty good, as he converted his 139 shots at the rim at a 69.8% clip[6], with half of his makes unassisted, though part of them came on putbacks.
      • He also showed a face-up game on a few instances; he lacks a quick first step to get by his man but can maintain his balance through contract to bully him all the way to the rim quite often. His face-up jumper is not yet an efficient asset, though he can make a floater to finish over length from the in-between area from time-to-time.
      • Washington proved he is able to handle double teams, showing dexterity taking escape dribbles to buy himself room and court vision to find teammates on the opposite end of the floor on cross-court passes.
    • He still did most of his eating on power moves, though. As a wrecking ball, he earned 8.2 foul shots per 40 minutes[7].
  • His second best way to contribute on offense was on the offensive glass, where he converted 90.5% of his 28 putback attempts, able to create space to go back for immediate scores thanks to his strength. He is not a quick leaper or all that instinctive chasing the ball off the rim, though – collecting just 7.9% of Kentucky’s misses when he was on the floor.
  • Washington lacks the lift to play above the rim as a target for lobs going up in traffic.
  • When opponents zoned against Kentucky, Washington was put in the foul line to try igniting passing sequences. He flashed a decent understanding on how to operate as a hub to facilitate and some nifty interior passing – assisting on 10.4% of Kentucky’s scores when he was on the floor.
  • His catch-and-shoot jumper looked more fluid as he seemed more comfortable taking outside shots later in the season, even getting up a few out of the pick-and-pop, but his release is slow at this point of his development and the ball doesn’t go in yet.
    • He missed 16 of his 21 three-point attempts, while hitting just 60.6% of his 208 free throws.

DEFENSE

  • Washington was proactive stepping up to the front of the basket and can go up off two feet to challenge shots via verticality and his eight-foot-nine standing reach[8]. He was also aggressive rotating inside in help defense, sometimes to a fault, helping off the strong-side corner.
    • But he has no explosiveness to play above the rim as a shot blocker – averaging just 1.2 blocks per 40 minutes.
    • He averaged four personal fouls per 40 minutes.
  • Washington proved to be attentive to his boxout responsibilities but struggled to rebound in volume for the same reasons he wasn’t all that productive on the offensive glass – collecting just 14.7% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.
  • He is a stout post defender.
  • Washington flashed the ability to wall off dribble penetration in drop-back pick-and-roll defense.
  • He can bend his knees but doesn’t get that low in a stance and isn’t suited to pick up smaller players on switches, lacking the lateral quickness to react side-to-side out in the perimeter.
  • He sells out on closeouts, gets blown by and exposes the defense behind him.
  • He has not shown much of a knack for making plays in the passing lanes, despite his seven-foot-three wingspan[9] – averaging just 1.1 steals per 40 minutes.

[1] According to RealGM

[2] According to Ken Pomeroy

[3] According to RealGM

[4] DOB: 8/23/1998

[5] According to Kentucky’s official listing

[6] According to hoop-math

[7] According to sports-reference

[8] According to Draft Express

[9] According to the measurements at the Kentucky Combine

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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