Prior to August, the Phoenix Suns were one of three teams in the league without at least one player signed to a two-way contract. That changed on Aug. 2 when they signed Duane Washington Jr. to one of the two slots.
The 6-foot-3 scoring guard is entering his second season in the league after a solid rookie season in Indiana considering he went undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft. He appeared in 48 games for the Pacers and started seven, averaging 9.9 points (including 37.7% on 4.5 three-point attempts), 1.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists (1.2 turnovers) in 20.2 minutes per game.
Washington Jr. comes from an NBA family with a father, Duane Washington Sr., who played two seasons in the NBA and about a dozen seasons elsewhere, as well as an uncle named Derek Fisher, ever heard of him?
Washington Jr.’s prestigious background doesn’t end with his bloodline though, as he excelled at Ohio State for three seasons:
General manager James Jones mentioned in the draft feature that they view players acquired through other avenues that aren’t the draft when they’re still early in their development arcs as their version of prospects, naming Iffe Lundberg specifically. He could be viewing Washington Jr. in a similar light.
As for my own evaluation of Washington Jr.’s capacities and where he could reach beyond that, he can make a spot appearance from time to time on this contending team this season with a chance to grow into more. This is the kind of guard that can blossom under Chris Paul’s tutelage and grow into a bigger role down the line.
One of my buddies on Twitter, RB, had an interesting point about Washington Jr. ending his rookie season on an upward trajectory:
Final month and change of last season (16 games) Duane Washington averaged 13 PPG, on 47.8 FG%, 44.4 3Pt% on 5.1 3PA per game, and 61.3 TS%.— RB (@RyB_311) August 3, 2022
Interesting to see if he can carry some of that into next season.
My only disappointment around the situation is that it didn’t happen soon enough for Washington Jr. to spend time in Vegas with Ish Wainright (who remains unsigned for now), Louis King, and the rest of the participants at Summer League.
I’m excited. I like it. Welcome to the Valley.