They Smell Like the Future: Michael Washington

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 23, 2010 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Photo by Glenn Bryant.

Arkansas Senior
6’10”, 224 lbs
23 years old
Power forward
Projection: Late second rounder/undrafted

When all is said and done, Michael Washington may be yet another cautionary tale of what not to do with incredible physical gifts. Not only does Washington have a frame made for pro ball, but also athleticism that could even make NBA bigs blush. Yet after four seasons of college ball — the crash course in character-building, fundamental-teaching, and man-making, if I’ve been told correctly — Michael has yet to really capitalize on his enormous potential. That’s not necessarily a death knell for Washington’s NBA dreams, but it makes his climb into the NBA even steeper than most second round prospects.

The arc of Washington’s career is particularly troublesome. After improving aspects of his production from season to season over his first three years at Arkansas, Michael’s senior year was a step back in the worst possible way. Washington regressed across the board, and regardless of who (or what; the situation in Arkansas has been rocky to say the least) is to blame, interest in him as a prospect collapsed. A player with Washington’s lack of technical skill doesn’t have a lot of leeway with NBA teams looking for legit talent, and the fact that his production not only plateaued after year three but fell off of a cliff is glaring.

If the Mavs or any other NBA team selects Washington in the draft, it will be an exercise in faith. That’s obviously true of all draft choices, but even more so for a prospect with incredible potential but little to show for it. You’d think four years would be enough time to develop some reliable skills on either end of the court, but Washington’s unrefined game stands as evidence to the contrary. It’d be terrific if every prospect like Michael Washington would just figure it out. Not necessarily with a flick of a switch; even the mildest hint of evolution over an extended period could satisfy my desire to see a player like Washington succeed.

Doubt over Washington’s future has crept in and set up base camp. After all, how else does one make sense of Washington’s rapid decline if they don’t attribute it to something greater?

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOBLKFG%3FG%
Per Game12.56.10.81.81.3.496.231
Per 4019.79.61.82.82.0------

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
54.850.79.115.96.362.924.8

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
1.45.018.1

Other People:

Jonathan Givony, Matt Kamalsky, Joe Treutlein, and Joey Whelan, Draft Express: “He is still very raw offensively as we have mentioned on multiple occasions, showing little in the ways of post-moves or counters…His ball-handling skills and overall shot-creating ability remains weak, and he’s not making shots from the perimeter at a particularly high rate either. All in all, there is little to point at in Washington’s offensive profile that would appear to translate on a consistent basis to the NBA level…As a whole, the big man has seen a significant decrease in his rebounding numbers, dropping from 12.4 per-40 minutes last season, to 9.1. For a frontcourt player who lacks a defining offensive skill and is not considered a very good defender, this sudden drop in production on the glass is fairly disastrous for his case as an NBA prospect.”

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.