The Hornets are in the middle of a youth movement and with that comes growing pains. Coach James Borrego even went as far as calling out second-year big man PJ Washington in a recent statement to the media.
James Borrego on PJ Washington: "Nobody believes in him more than I do. He’s someone that I trust, value. But he’s got to play better. He’s got to be in better shape. We need him to peak out this season and he’s just not there right now."— Rod Boone (@rodboone) December 21, 2020
Borrego was very open about his desire for Washington to get better. Despite the negative connotations behind this quote, this does display the fact that the organization has a lot of faith in the big man to be great. With a lack of elite talent at the four or five, and the rumors that Washington could be getting some center minutes this season, there’s a lot of pressure for him to take that next step sooner rather than later.
Washington credited part of his struggle to perform to the nine month break from basketball due to the pandemic. He said that the preseason was just him “knocking his rust off.” In Charlotte’s four preseason games he averaged 7.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 3.0 turnovers on 29.5% shooting from the field and 14.3% shooting from deep. This type of efficiency is unacceptable for a guy who’s supposed to be constantly improving, and Borrego’s comments acknowledge that.
The one upside from Washington’s play in the preseason is that he looked very engaged on the defensive end, averaging 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks a night. As a whole, though, he just looked a little bit out of shape and was taking some shots that normally aren’t in his arsenal. Maybe it really is just the rust wearing off, but his performance has to improve if the Hornets want to have a successful season.
PJ Washington mentions he hasn’t played in 9 months and he’s knocking his rust off. He admits he hasn’t played up to his potential.— Richie (@RichieRandall) December 21, 2020
Washington owned up to the fact that he hasn’t played up to par with expectations, and this level of play shouldn’t last long. With the regular season knocking on the front door, his intensity and training regimen should be ramped up immediately. Don’t overreact too much to his preseason play; Coach Borrego took note of it, Washington took note of it, and he’ll be working hard to improve all throughout this season.