You hate to see it. Charlotte Hornets forward, PJ Washington Jr. played 44 minutes in a close game versus the Phoenix Suns last Sunday. In those minutes, he went 0-7 from the field, 0-4 from beyond the arc. He added to that infamous feat two missed free throws. Here on At The Hive, we may have a slight editorial bent with an inclination towards optimistic coverage of the Charlotte Hornets. However, it is important to stay fair and balanced, or at least simply marvel at the beautiful disaster that is the ‘0-for’ game.
It’s not like the second year starter didn’t contribute. He snatched 12 rebounds and was a positive on the court (+4). But there’s no two ways about it, it would have been nice for him to directly contribute to the scoreboard in his ¾ of an hour of play time. At least his misses were varied. When he put up a paint shot, it would fall short of the basket, bouncing off the lip of the rim. In his long range attempts, the ball would ricochet off the heel of the rim. But you can’t hit that second free throw? In an overtime game, when the score is close, it’s a glaring absence not only on the box score, but in the gravity of the game.
With the dearth of scoring options in the Hornets front court, PJ being a no-show hurts the spacing of the court. Cody Zeller is a perfect example. Opponents give him a good three feet when he gets the ball at the key, knowing there’s no risk of an offensive attack. So, PJ Washington, with help from Miles off the bench, bears the lion’s share of the scoring load at the forward position (11.5 ppg). So, when Cody doesn’t score for a whole game it’s not great, but it’s not pivotal. When Bismack puts up a goose egg, shrug emoji. But when PJ can’t get the ball in the basket, it’s a problem.
With this performance coming so close off the heels of the trade deadline, it can inflate the issue. Kupchak and the Hornets didn’t trade for one of the expensive or cheap big men available at the deadline. Zach Lowe stated that there was some interest in Nikola Vučević from the Hornets, but the Bull’s package of picks and players was a massive haul. The buyout market is dominated by championship contenders and large market teams. And so, the success of the front court will land on the shoulders of Bismack Biyombo, Miles Bridges, PJ Washington Jr., and Cody Zeller (watch them shoulders, Cody!)
The ‘0-For’ game means relatively little in the grand scheme of the team’s performance; save for the notch in the win column that would have kept the NY Knicks at bay. PJ will, undoubtedly, find his stroke again and come back with a great performance like the 42-point domination of Sacramento earlier in the season. In the meantime, it’s nice to know that even NBA players have workdays where they just can’t seem to complete their TPS reports.