It is the time of the NBA offseason where training camp is right around the corner and teams are filling out the back end of their rosters. Some names are notable and throwbacks to players we are used to seeing. Others, like former Utah center Jason Washburn, are relatively unknown and under the radar.
After spending time playing in the NBA's Summer League and over seas, Washburn has been invited to the Charlotte Hornets' training camp on a non-guaranteed deal. Washburn is a relative unknown to the basketball world. I'll admit, as much of a college hoops junkie as I am, I didn't even recognize the name. He played four seasons at Utah from 2009-2013, averaging around 12 points and seven rebounds per game on 55% shooting his junior and senior year.
After going undrafted in 2013, Washburn started his pro career overseas in the Ukraine playing for SK Cherkasy in the Ukrainian Super League. In 16 games, he averaged 14.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from three. He then moved to play for Tsmoki-Minsk of the VTB United League, the top tier league in Russia. He didn't quite get the opportunity to play much there, only appearing in six games and averaging 9.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Last year, he played in Belgium for Brussels, averaging 9.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game.
The best way to gauge his strengths would be to go back and look at his college performances. According to Synergy Sports, 38.7 percent of Washburn's offense came via post up, good for a majority of his touches by a wide margin. At 7'0" and a slight 245 pounds, Washburn relied on his soft touch on his right hook to get his buckets. That soft touched allowed him to shoot 63.2 percent around the rim, according to Synergy Sports.
He was an extremely effective mid range shooter as well, putting in 45.8 percent of his attempts between 17 feet and the three point line. He has the potential to be a pick and pop center, which could turn into something huge for him.
The problem is the Hornets already have those types of players on their roster. Kaminsky is their resident pick and pop threat, and he does that almost exclusively with a much larger sample size than Washburn. Al Jefferson is their main post up guy, who is much better at moving guys off the block. Washburn is pretty far away from adding the necessary strength and polish to his game needed to crack an NBA roster.
The only circumstance I see Washburn making the team is if coach Steve Clifford and his staff decide that they need extra frontcourt depth. They have lots of potential rotation pieces up front, but the majority of them haven't proven to be much in the way of consistency. Marvin Williams toggles between both forward spots, Frank Kaminsky is a rookie, Spencer Hawes is coming off a less than stellar season with the Los Angeles Clippers, and Tyler Hansbrough has never really been able to get a lock on a rotation spot no matter where he has been. Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson are locks to give consistent production at the big positions, but after that, we only have an idea of what we might see.
That is Washburn's best argument for making the team; being an extra body on hand and to have another possible post up threat on the roster. It also helps that he hasn't played much in front of the general NBA population to be exposed in any sort of way. Being unknown in these types of situations can help you, and his potential skill set of being a post up player while being to add in some shooting is enticing. He may not be the most know player, but maybe he can use that to his advantage come training camp.