2019 NBA Draft: 5 prospects who can help a team right now

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3. P.J. Washington, PF, Kentucky

Height: 6’8” | Weight: 230 | Age: 20

Draft range: 12-20

P.J. Washington is the lone underclassman on this list, declaring after his sophomore season. Washington is also far and away the best athlete on this list and the most hyped prospect; it is no wonder that he will likely be the first among these five to hear his name called June 20.

A former McDonald’s All-American and a consensus five-star recruit, Washington fought through a finger injury near the end of his tepid freshman season at Kentucky. After failing to secure a first round promise in the 2018 NBA Draft, he returned to school with the goal of working on his shooting.

Now, after a standout sophomore year with one of the best colleges teams in the country, Washington may become the poster child for why all but the best prospects should return to school. In just a single season, Washington turned his shooting around and raised his draft profile into a possible lottery pick.

  • 2017-18 shooting splits: .519/.238/.606
  • 2018-19 shooting splits: .522/.423/.663

Washington’s confidence in his 3-pointer was clear; he tripled his attempts this season, going from a minuscule 0.6 attempts per game in his freshman season to 2.2 attempts per game this year. His 3-pointer alone was the main reason his scoring jumped from 10.8 points per game to 15.2 points per game between his freshman and sophomore years.

The free throw percentage is still a bit concerning and the footwork on his 3s needs to become more consistent with his feet properly spaced out and facing the hoop, but the massive productivity leap shows well for his NBA future.

After all, this is not bad company to be in:

Defensively, Washington’s energy level, athleticism and size (6’8” with a 7’2.25” wingspan) bode well for his frontcourt fit in the NBA. He averaged 7.5 rebounds in just 29.3 minutes per game last year on a Kentucky team full of bigs, and somehow has room to improve; at the Draft Combine in May Washington measured in with 8.6 percent body fat, one of the highest numbers tallied.

With proper NBA strength and conditioning, that number should decrease and Washington will be unleashed even further as a great energy guy who can step out and hit the occasional 3.