Former Ohio State basketball player Duane Washington had a promising rookie season with the Indiana Pacers last season. After expecting to spend most of the year in the G-League, injuries and COVID thrust him into the rotation. He even started 7 games for the Pacers.
Unfortunately, he was let go last month as part of a cap move to allow space for the Pacers to try to sign Deandre Ayton to a max contract. The Suns ended up matching the offer sheet though and the Pacers never got Ayton. They also never tried to re-sign Washington.
Now, Washington has a new team. He has signed a two-way contract with the Suns in a similar deal that he had signed with the Pacers after the Draft last year. He now gets the possibility of playing for one of the best teams in the entire league.
Washington showed some potential last year. He showed that he is fearless on the offense and he thinks he can score against anyone. He also showed that he has a short memory, which is important for a shooter. As a scorer, Washington averaged almost 10 points per game and shot 37.7% from three.
Even with all of that experience, I don’t think Washington is ready to play in the NBA full-time just yet. He needs some work in the G-League. He only shot 40.5% from the field overall and still is a very bad defender. While he showed some flashes of playmaking skills, they are still very limited too.
I do think Washington can improve a bit as a defender. I think he’ll always be bad at that, but I think he can upgrade to below average. If he can improve his shot-making efficiency, teams will have to play him. Good offense overrides bad defense every day of the week.
Do I think the former Ohio State basketball player will ever become a star in the NBA? No, I don’t. But I do think he can be a solid bench guy for a decade based on his potential. If he can shoot closer to 42-43% from deep, he’s going to have a role in the NBA for years to come.