Hornets fans’ collective reaction to the selection of PJ Washington in the 2019 NBA Draft can be described in one word: negative.
Obviously, not everyone thought that way, but the majority of Hornets fans on the internet wanted the team to go in a different direction. PJ was seen as another “safe” pick that was unlikely to develop into a significant contributor, especially with the concerns regarding his jump shot in the pre-draft process.
Well, it took him all of one game as a Hornet to prove the doubters wrong. He debuted with a 27 point, four rebound performance while splashing in seven-of-11 3-point attempts. Four games later, he poured in 23 points and grabbed eight boards, shooting 10-13 from the field. It was clear very early in the season that the Hornets had themselves a foundational piece in PJ.
He finished the season averaging 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, with a 45.5 percent FG/37.4 percent 3PT/64.7 percent FT shooting split. Those numbers don’t jump off of the page, but they’re quite good for a rookie that averaged 30.3 minutes per game.
PJ has a strong all-around game. He’s a shooting threat from long-range. He has a bevy of post moves from both the high and low block. He can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim against mismatches. He’s developed significantly as a passer since he got to Charlotte. He defends multiple positions well. He battles underneath the rim for rebounds on offense and defense. The only things that one can say PJ isn’t at least solid at are shot-blocking and free-throw shooting, and even with that he averaged 0.9 blocks per 36 minutes.
It will be really fun to watch PJ develop over the summer and into next season. His development as a passer was mentioned above, but it can’t be understated; he became one of the best playmakers on the team by the time the season was suspended. The touch he has when making such quick decisions is impressive, and he seems to have the corner kick-out from the post down pat. Just watch the pass in this clip and you’ll see all you need:
PJ Washington, posting Morris on a cross-match, touch pass out of the post to Hernagomez on the vertical -- oh my pic.twitter.com/MURaLOamd5— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) March 6, 2020
That’s some off-the-charts basketball IQ and feel on display. PJ fronts Monte Morris to clear the lane for Willy and makes a pinpoint one-handed touch pass with his off-hand.
The speed with which PJ has developed as a passer gives the indication that he can excel in other areas, too. His 64.7 free-throw percentage is sure to rise, given how good of a shooter he is.
PJ is also an avid gamer (he plays a lot of Fortnite, Call of Duty and NBA 2K20) and has a cool dog. His dad is also nice guy that actively uses Twitter and likes/retweets fans who praise PJ. We can’t forget the intangibles.
I don’t know how anyone could give PJ anything less than an “A” for his rookie season. He should be a lock for all-Rookie first team. You are required to explain yourself in the comments if you think otherwise.
Final Grade: A
What grade do you give PJ Washington for his 2019-20 season?
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