Future Watch: PJ Washington Rookie Basketball Cards, Hornets

Future Watch: PJ Washington Rookie Basketball Cards, HornetsFuture Watch: PJ Washington Rookie Basketball Cards, HornetsPJ Washington was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1998. Both of his parents played basketball at Middle Tennessee State. PJ wears the number 25 as a tribute to his father, who wore the same number in college. He earned five star ratings from Scout, Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN as one of the top players in the 2017 recruiting class. He would elect to stay close to home and attend the University of Kentucky.

As a freshman, Washington played through a pinkie injury for most of the season and averaged 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds. In Kentucky’s 2018 NCAA Tournament loss to Kansas State, Washington led the Wildcats with 18 points and 15 rebounds. After the Tournament, he initially declared for the 2018 NBA Draft but announced his intention to return to Kentucky for the 2018-19 season.

It was a good choice for Washington, as he increased his stats across the board as a sophomore. He started in 33 of Kentucky’s 35 games and averaged 15.2 points, 7.6 boards and 1.8 assists per game. Most impressively, he increased his three-point shooting from 23.8% as a freshman to 42.3% as a sophomore. In their Elite Eight loss to Auburn at the 2019 NCAA Tournament, Washington led the Wildcats with 28 points and 13 boards. Shortly after the Tournament, PJ Washington announced his intention to forego his final two seasons of college eligibility and declared for the 2019 NBA Draft.

At the combine, the power forward measured 6’8” with a 7’2.5” wingspan and a 230-pound frame. Scouts were intrigued by his athleticism and ability to play in transition. Staying for a sophomore season really helped Washington gain steam heading into the draft. Many scouts were impressed with his shooting gains and felt he fit the mold as stretch-4 in the modern NBA. As a defender, he uses his wingspan and athleticism to protect the rim and grab tough rebounds. He’ll need to work on his team defense at the next level, but he has an impressive amount of skills to build upon. On draft night, the Charlotte Hornets selected PJ Washington in the first round with the 12th overall pick.

Through 31 games this season, PJ Washington has started in every game while averaging 29.8 minutes per contest. He’s currently ninth in points per game among rookies with 12.5 and fifth in rebounds with 5.2. In the month of December, he averaged 14.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 blocks. The Hornets are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 13-23 record, three games behind the eight seed Orlando Magic.

Time are tough in Charlotte, but PJ Washington gives a glimmer of hope for the future. One of the most important roster pieces in the modern NBA is a stretch-4 and it looks like the Hornets have found that piece in PJ Washington. He’s third on the team in scoring, fourth in rebounds and fourth in minutes. Charlotte will give him every opportunity to produce moving forward and he has a very good shot of making one of the All-Rookie teams at the end of the season.

Charlotte’s current record and lack of respect among collectors put PJ Washington’s rookie cards in an interesting spot. Take a look at Kevin Knox, last year’s top pick from Kentucky. The Knicks selected Knox with the 9th overall pick in 2018 and he was one of the most desirable rookies to collect. Playing in New York will do that and Knox was ok as a rookie when you look at the raw numbers. Unfortunately, the Knicks were one of the worst teams in the league and the love collectors had for Knox’s rookie cards dwindled after the season.

Will the same thing happen with PJ Washington’s rookie cards? It’s hard to say. It doesn’t help that the most popular basketball teams in North Carolina are college programs. Still, it’s hard to see PJ Washington taking the same route as Kevin Knox. Charlotte certainly has more positive elements in place than the Knicks, especially when it comes to coaching and the overall direction of the franchise. There’s still plenty of time for Knox to develop, but his path to improvement and NBA stardom isn’t as clear as it is with PJ Washingon. Take a look at Washington’s growth from his freshman to sophomore seasons at Kentucky. He can and will get better in the NBA. Collectors should monitor his rookie cards and pounce when deals are found. Don’t dismiss this exciting prospect and keep an eye on his development in 2020.

Collectors looking for rookie cards of PJ Washington in his Kentucky Wildcats uniform will find them in Panini’s 2019 Collegiate Basketball products including Prizm Draft Picks and Contenders Draft Picks. Find PJ Washington rookie cards in his Charlotte Hornets uniform in 2019-20 Panini Hoops, Contenders, Prizm and much more to come!

Future Watch: PJ Washington Rookie Basketball Cards, Hornets – Stats as of 1/2/2020

Per Game Table
Season Age Tm Pos G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2019-20 21 CHO PF 31 31 29.8 4.6 9.6 .482 1.5 3.5 .422 3.2 6.1 .516 .559 1.7 2.6 .659 0.9 4.3 5.2 1.7 1.0 0.9 1.4 2.7 12.5
Career 31 31 29.8 4.6 9.6 .482 1.5 3.5 .422 3.2 6.1 .516 .559 1.7 2.6 .659 0.9 4.3 5.2 1.7 1.0 0.9 1.4 2.7 12.5
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/2/2020.

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James Gale