2019 NBA Draft: 4 Sleepers Atlanta Hawks Could Draft at #10 Overall

PJ Washington Grant Williams Atlanta Hawks 2019 NBA Draft (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PJ Washington Grant Williams Atlanta Hawks 2019 NBA Draft (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Hawks 2019 NBA Draft
PJ Washington Atlanta Hawks 2019 NBA Draft (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

PJ Washington

After a rather dispiriting freshman season, PJ Washington played it safe and returned to Kentucky for his sophomore year. What a masterstroke that turned out to be. Despite getting memorably hammered by the Duke Blue Devils in the first game of the season in the Champions Classic, Washington showed great improvement all season – to the point that he even challenged the aforementioned Grant Williams for SEC Player of the Year at season’s end.

Though he didn’t win the award, Washington certainly had a case. An unstoppable two-way force, Washington finished in the top 15 in the SEC in offensive rating (9th), defensive rating (3rd), usage rate (12th), box plus/minus (4th), effective field goal percentage (5th and player efficiency rating (4th) per Sports Reference.

Washington was an extremely efficient scoring machine for Kentucky, logging field goal percentages above 42 percent from all three levels: Midrange (45%), rim (65.7%) and three-point territory (42.3%) per Bart Torvik.

Most notably in the Atlanta Hawks case in the 2019 NBA Draft, Washington shot 20 of 44 from NBA three-point territory in college (a 45.5% clip) per The Stepien’s shot chart tool. Also, according to Sports Reference, his three-point attempt rate shot up from a lowly 8.1 percent in his freshman season to a more reasonable 21.4 percent. That combined efficiency and volume should breed hope for the Atlanta Hawks if they were to add Washington with the #10 overall pick.

Perhaps most important for the Atlanta Hawks in this case is something far less numerical yet no less tangible – the way in which Washington plays. He has a mean streak and plays with a vicious snarl that opposing teams will rue the day that invoked while playing against Washington.

Does that sound like something the Atlanta Hawks should be looking for in the 2019 NBA Draft? Who knows, but Washington’s innate athleticism and fiery competitiveness sure would be fun alongside the icy demeanor of Trae Young and the gliding athleticism of John Collins going forward.