The 2019 NBA Draft will be a great event for teams to start building for their future. The Game Haus will be doing scouting reports on some of the top prospects in the 2019 NBA Draft. Kentucky forward P.J. Washington spent two seasons at Kentucky, but is now an NBA Draft prospect.
Position: Power Forward
2018-2019 stats:15.2 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game, 0.8 steals per game, 1.2 blocks per game, 52.2% field goal, 42.3% 3 point
Size: 6-foot-8, 240 pounds
Washington was one of a few talented players in the 2017 recruitment class for Kentucky, but he took two seasons at Kentucky before entering his name in the draft. He was one of the most improved players in all college basketball last season, and as a result, his draft stock has risen significantly.
As a freshman, Washington averaged 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. His play helped Kentucky reach the Sweet Sixteen of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. After evaluating whether entering his name in the NBA Draft would be the right decision or not, Washington decided to go back to Lexington for another season with the Wildcats. Washington was committed to improving his game and averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore. The Wildcats were bounced out of the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight, but Washington had a great season that saw him be named to the All-SEC Team.
His decision to go back to college and work on his game turned out to be a great one for his draft stock. Now, Washington is projected to go in the middle of the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
Washington can score in a variety of ways for an NBA team. He has a few post moves and at times can just out-muscle competition down low. His ability to drive to the basket is also solid, given his size. He can hit the mid-range and last season, Washington proved to be a good 3-point shooter at 42.3 percent. These abilities will allow him to fit in well with today’s NBA.
In terms of rebounding, Washington is one of the best players in the class. He fights hard down in the post to gain position and fights for the ball. After the ball hits off the rim, he has a keen awareness on where the ball will go. His strength, physicality and anticipation all make him a solid rebounder and all of those skills should translate to pro basketball.
While he isn’t the tallest power forward, Washington has a good combination of size and body control. At 240 pounds, he has the strength to battle with big bodies down low, but also has the mobility to get to the basket himself and guard on the perimeter. He should be able to play the four-spot in regular lineups and be a successful small-ball five off the bench.
Washington is not a great athlete even if he does have decent body control. He mostly plays below the rim, which could limit his potential, given how many talented athletes he will be playing against day in and day out as a pro. His lack of athleticism manifests itself in a few key areas.
Because he isn’t the most athletic, and isn’t the biggest, Washington is not a good rim protector. He averaged 1.2 blocks per game last season, showing good help and effort, but he simply doesn’t have the jumping ability or length to be known as a rim protector in the NBA. He’ll be able to guard players on the perimeter decently, but if they drive, he may not be able to stop them at the rim.
Another area Washington can improve is his awareness on offense. Washington is prone to lose the ball in the post or miss open teammates on the perimeter. The spaced out NBA floor could help, but even so he’ll need an adjustment period and some work in that area to become a better player.