P.J. Washington’s first NBA Draft Combine scrimmage was a pretty good summary of his freshman season at UK. He did plenty of great things, quietly put up impressive numbers, but went missing at times.
Here are the pros and cons of Washington’s first scrimmage in the NBA Draft Combine. This post specifically details his scrimmage performance. To learn more about his measurements and agility drills, click here.
– Anytime you put up 14 and 13 playing with unfamiliar players is impressive. Everyone is fighting for draft positioning and several guys are fighting just to hear their name called on draft night. Everyone wants this and Washington tied a game high with 14 points and had a game high 13 rebounds.
– Spacing continues to be an underrated strength for Washington. It can be tough at times to be “good” at spacing at the college level especially if you can’t spread the floor. Washington’s outside shot never developed in year one at UK, but he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time and opened things up for SGA, Quade Green, Jarred Vandebilt and Wenyen Gabriel. It was more of the same on Thursday and assuming his jump shot develops (he was solid in high school) then he will be able to impact the game in a variety ways at the NBA level.
– Defense was easily the most impressive part of Washington’s game. Let’s be honest, Washington didn’t have a great year defensively at UK. He never had a true rim protector and that makes things tough, but he seemed to get beaten off the dribble and never seemed to guard (outside of Tennessee) too many guys that actually played his position. He was either guarding bigger centers or quicker small forwards. Today he didn’t get lost defensively and stayed in front of his guys. He even guarded well out on the perimeter, which will help showcase his versatility.
– Washington was once again able to get to the free throw line and that certainly seems to be his bread and butter as an offensive player. He will develop other parts of his game, maybe at UK but probably in the NBA, but as long as he can bully people and get to the stripe that’s something that stands out. I only saw one really bad miss from the free throw line, which is solid. I still have nightmares about the Kansas State game.
– Washington doesn’t get every rebound (although 13 today was phenomenal) but he’s so good at finding a guy the second the ball leaves a player’s hands. He boxes out as well as anyone in the NBA Draft in my opinion. To be a beast on the glass it starts with putting yourself in front of an opposing player and the rim.
14 pts (4-5 FG) (6-10 FT)
19 minutes pic.twitter.com/RaCRr4co8x
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) May 17, 2018
– Washington isn’t going to be an NBA superstar, but there’s just too many long stretches where Washington isn’t involved offensively. There were multiple possessions where he wouldn’t touch the ball or get a look from his teammates. Obviously the NBA Draft Combine circumstances are different and he isn’t familiar playing with the vast majority of the guys on the floor, but NBA teams want to see Washington be assertive. He’s too good to go missing.
– We still didn’t get a great look at Washington’s ability to spread the floor, which would leave him as an undersized four in the NBA. Not ideal. I understand it’s not something that will happen over night but Washington has to be able to hit outside shots and spread the floor. In just one scrimmage this shouldn’t drop him in the NBA Draft, but it’s something I would ponder when drafting Washington.
– While Washington only had one horrible miss from the free throw line, 6 of 10 from the stripe doesn’t show an improvement from his freshman season. He was a 60.6 percent free throw shooter at UK, so the one scrimmage was perfectly comparable to his six months in Lexington. If he’s going to live at the line he needs to be better.
PJ Washington said he will stay in the draft if he believes he will be taken in the first round. He will return to UK if he believes he would be a second-round pick or go undrafted.
— Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton) May 17, 2018
That quote from Washington shortly after the NBA Draft Combine may be telling, but today was a good day for Washington. I’ve been told the only way he truly considers a return to Kentucky is if he bombs at the NBA Draft Combine. Even with a mediocre vertical, a double-double in his first scrimmage is far from a bomb.
I think UK needs to start thinking of other options to replace Washington.