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FutureStarrHornets Update: P.J. Washington's Status
After missing the Hornets' last four games due to a sprained foot, Washington is expected to play Sunday against the Nets. While he could potentially push JT Thor to the bench, his presence won't significantly impact your fantasy basketball lineup.
Washington has yet to establish himself as a primary on-ball option and often serves as an effective play punctuator. This is an area in which he can significantly improve.
Washington, the Hornets' first-round pick in 2019, has made a major contribution to their team this season. While his numbers aren't as impressive as they were during his rookie year, he's still making an important contribution both offensively and overall for the Hornets.
Washington has demonstrated his ability to be a key factor in helping the Hornets win games this season despite only playing 15.5 minutes per game. His leadership and contributions on both ends of the court have been invaluable as the team works towards reaching the playoffs. His presence will only enhance that effort going forward.
He's also demonstrated the ability to make plays off the ball, which is essential for teams looking to win games in postseason competition. This has been a cornerstone of their late-season surge and will need to remain consistent moving forward.
If the Hornets can continue to put PJ in an advantageous position both on and off the court, he could become a valuable asset for any team. His youth and versatility make him invaluable to any roster looking to return to the playoffs next year.
His versatility is an asset, yet he still has room for development in certain areas. That is why it should be given more opportunities on the court even if he's not a primary option for on-ball defense or offense.
He's displayed the ability to make crucial plays both defensively and offensively this season, which could help him command a higher salary when it comes time for his next contract - expected to be long-term.
His other statistics have remained fairly steady, but his scoring average has rocketed nearly five full points this season due to an increased usage rate. Additionally, he's taking more 3-point shots than ever before which could prove beneficial if he can improve his accuracy.
Thanks to his increased usage and scoring this season, Washington's VORP has reached career highs, ranking among the top-20 in the NBA. While his PER has fallen below league average, his VORP remains higher than most players on the team - an encouraging sign for Washington's long-term career success.
Washington was listed as doubtful for Saturday's game against Miami, though it appears more likely that he will sit out. After missing two games due to a foot injury, the team is uncertain how long he'll be sidelined. In Friday night's win over Minnesota, Washington finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, one steal and one block in 35 minutes; however the team revealed afterward that he had suffered a right foot strain.
The good news is that Washington has been seen without his walking boot and his status should improve shortly. Although he may not be ready to play in Saturday's matchup against the Heat, JT Thor will still start in his place.
Washington's minutes could be monitored in his return game, but he should be safe to activate in season-long settings. He'll likely join JT Thor and Nick Richards on the second unit; with Richards getting more work than Thor.
Rotogrinders' Court IQ shows him averaging 10.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in 32.7 minutes over his last four games, giving him a low production number in both categories. Still, fantasy managers looking for a big-time scorer who plays away should find him to be an attractive value.
If Washington plays, he'll likely be the starting lineup for this week's back-to-back set against Atlanta. The Hawks are an unfavorable matchup for the Hornets, so having Washington on board could provide some much needed depth to big men like Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo and Jalen McDaniels.
Washington's production in four games since returning has been below par. He is averaging just 9.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists across 27.2 minutes per game according to Rotogrinders' Court IQ.
That is far from his career-high averages of 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 82 games last season. As a result, streaming the Hornets' big man isn't recommended in the current format.
Washington must improve on the defensive end if he wants to maintain his fantasy ceiling. His shooting percentage from three-point range this season has been dismal, and his lack of consistent offensive effort has been an area for concern. Furthermore, Washington is averaging only 1.5 blocks per game this season which falls far below his career average of 1.7 blocks per game.
Friday night, Washington was officially listed as doubtful for Saturday's game against Miami due to a foot injury sustained during their win against Minnesota. To determine his status for the remainder of the weekend, an official injury report will need to be released.
It is a major setback for the Hornets, as they will be without one of their most valuable players at this stage in the season. JT Thor will start in his place and should see increased playing time if Washington remains out a second consecutive game.
However, it's surprising the Hornets didn't receive an update on his status before Friday's game. After all, the 24-year-old forward had 20 points, eight rebounds, one assist and one block in 35 minutes before being forced to sit out with a right foot sprain.
Although he's been absent the past four games, JT Thor is expected to return on Sunday. This should see Nick Richards taking over the starting role and JT Thor seeing his minutes decrease slightly; however, he's still eligible for activation in season-long settings.
He's become a more dangerous scorer this season, hitting 30 triples out of 71 attempts (42.3 percent). Additionally, his free-throw shooting has improved significantly as well.
Washington's improved shooting percentages on two-pointers and dunks should make him a viable fantasy option. He's averaging 12.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists across 30.9 expected minutes this season.
The Hornets must find a way to make Washington an appealing streaming option. His fantasy value will likely depend on whether he can regain his status as a reliable scorer, or if he can turn this into a career year by improving his three-point shooting and free throw shooting percentages.
If he can accomplish that feat, we could very well be looking at an All-Star for the Hornets. This is a fantastic chance for him and hopefully he is willing to seize it.
On Monday, PJ Washington officially declared himself out with a fractured fifth finger and will be out until Christmas. He was seen at practice on Tuesday without wearing his walking boot and appeared to be doing well.
Later on Tuesday, the Hornets will provide an updated injury report that should provide more clarity regarding his status for Wednesday's game against the Suns. We'll make sure our models reflect this information.
He's expected to return for Sunday's game against the Nets, though he may only play a few minutes. After being unavailable for four straight games, it's safe to assume his return will be limited.
Washington is an integral part of Charlotte's offense, so it will be interesting to see what happens with his minutes when he returns. JT Thor could see some extra playing time as he returns, while Nick Richards could see his minutes decrease as well.
Washington has averaged 15.3 points per game this season, shooting 44% from the field and 35% from three-point range - leading the Hornets in both categories. He also averages 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
On the contrary, his play has been inconsistent this season as he has failed to hit double-digit points in any of his last five outings. Furthermore, he hasn't been able to sustain the level of play that made him such a star during his time at Kentucky.
Though he's young and talented, it remains uncertain if he'll be a factor for Charlotte during the upcoming season. That being said, as long as he remains healthy, he should be an invaluable asset in fantasy basketball formats that utilize small forwards or power forwards - especially those that utilize smaller forwards or centers.
He's still a high draft pick and his contract could potentially pay him an impressive amount of money. With expectations high that he'll have an exciting NBA career, it appears likely that if he plays well this season, he could be one of the top options in dynasty formats as well.