Credit: UK Athletics

PJ Washington Draft Profile

Breaking down the NBA potential of PJ Washington

Soph. 6’8″ 225 Power Forward Kentucky 20 Yrs. Old
15.2 ppg 7.5 rpg 1.8 apg FG: 52.2% 3 PT: 42.3%

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Recruiting Profile

Wingspan: 7’3″

Vertical Leap: 36.5 Inches

NBA Comparison: Marcus Morris

Strengths: Jump Shot, Inside Scoring, Efficiency, Length

Weaknesses: Speed, Lateral Quickness, Height

After a solid freshman season, granted there were question marks with his game, Washington elected to return to school for his sophomore year. The feedback he received was simple, come back to school and a show an improved offensive skill set while extending your game past the three point line. By most accounts this is exactly what Washington did, with his improvement being evident both on the court and in the numbers. As a freshman Washington only attempted 21 three pointers the entire year shooting it at 23.8%, but he improved to 42.3% as a sophomore while increasing his attempts to 78 on the season. This is not a large sample size for his shooting ability, but the improvement shows that he is willing to work on his game, and there is room to grow. He has always had the ability to score around the basket, and this part of his game is something that he can do with a variety of moves. Scoring with his back to the basket, or facing up and then making a move to get by a defender, he has a wide range of ways to get a bucket inside of the three point line. His wingspan at 7’3″ and being a solid athlete allow him to play much bigger than his listed height, and project him to be an above average defender at the next level. Washington rebounds the ball well, with double-double potential on any given night in college, and this will be a large part of the puzzle if he is to stick in the league and be an effective pro. 

With his vertical abilities and length, Washington will be fine in those areas but his speed and lateral quickness are a concern. Considering he will be trailing plays, especially after a rebound, his end to end speed won’t be a huge issue but quickness is a different story. Being able to keep up with quicker power forwards that are in the NBA might be an issue going forward on defense, and it a facet of his game that will need improvement. In the NCAA tournament as a freshman, Washington went 8 for 20 from the free throw line in a loss to Kansas State leading many fans to question if he would ever get his shot together. There has been improvement with his free throw shooting, going from 60.6% as a freshman, to 66.3% as a sophomore but he needs to become more consistent at the line to reach his full potential offensively. Lastly, his size is not ideal at just 6’8″ as a true power forward or small ball center, but as mentioned before he can play much bigger with his length. If he can shoot the ball efficiently and play solid defense, his size won’t be too much of an issue, however there is the possibility he will struggle to score inside due to the increased size in the league. 

This play gives you an idea of his ability to finish at the rim:

Here was a big three that he hit against Auburn in the Elite Eight:

Washington is a lock to go in the first round, with lottery potential. It is possible that he could end up going in the top ten if a team falls in love with his game, but his most likely landing spot is in the 10-20 range. His ceiling as a professional is a starter level stretch four, who puts up above average offensive numbers and plays solid defense. The worst case scenario for Washington would be that he fails to shoot the basketball the way he did as a sophomore and comes off of the bench in a back up role, providing a spark on offense in limited minutes. 

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