The NBA season halted abruptly on March 11th due to the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic, and players have had to deal with circumstances in unchartered waters the last six months. Twenty-two NBA teams received the invite to the NBA bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and began somewhat of their regular basketball routine. However, eight teams were not invited and remained away from the fray even as the NBA season started back up.
One of the teams that didn’t make the cut was the Charlotte Hornets. During the past few weeks, they began their mini-team bubble in Charlotte, where they are now practicing as a team for the first time since the season ended. As for rookie P.J. Washington, the time off has been extremely productive.
“It’s been great. Pretty much just working out trying to stay in shape as best I can,” Washington told Forbes in a phone interview.
The 6’7″ 230 lbs Forward was drafted 12th overall out of Kentucky last summer and recently earned a place on the NBA’s All-Rookie 2nd team. During the 58 games he appeared in, he averaged 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and shot an impressive 37% from three-point range. Yet, he still knows there are things to improve on to take the next step. He says that he needs to work on his ball-handling and to set up his teammates better.
“Those are the things I’ve been working on during quarantine,” he said. I’d say this whole year has just been a learning experience for me.”
At Kentucky, coached by John Calipari for two seasons, Washington and the Wildcats went an impressive 56-18. The young Hornets went 23-42 this season.
“It’s definitely tough, but you’ve gotta look at it as learning experiences,” he said. “Every loss you can look at and try to get better from. I think when you take that mentality, it’s a lot easier to try to get better and want to push forward and want to get better.”
Washington had never really been to Charlotte before getting drafted by the franchise but says he loves the city, the fans, and hospitality so far. On the roster, there was built-in familiarity with two fellow Kentucky alums in Malik Monk and Michael-Kidd-Gilchrist. While they are a young team, they also had a unique group of veterans, and the recently retired Marvin Williams took Washington under his wing.
“He [Williams] was one of my favorite teammates, he was a great guy, pretty much showed me the ropes of how to stay in the league for a long time,” Washington said.
Part of being a rookie entailed the infamous NBA rookie duties, and his job was to bring donuts and Chick-fil-A before every flight.
Aside from their roster, their majority owner is Michael Jordan, and Washington was not even born when Jordan had played his last game in a Chicago Bulls uniform. Washington recalled their first meeting at a team charity event and Jordan walking by saying, “what’s up rook,” and shaking his hand.
While Washington has been working to improve upon his impressive rookie campaign, the 22-year-old also became active off of the court and is now allowing people to invest in his personal wealth. Partnering with SportBLX, the pair issued 100,000 shares of stock in the PJ Washington Corporation at $100 per share.
“I think it’s a great way for me to create wealth on and off the court and build a relationship with my fans as well,” he said. “I don’t understand why a lot of athletes my age wouldn’t want to do this.”
Being pro-active on his finances is something that he is taking very seriously. His father used to work at car dealerships, so he has always been fascinated by that. One day he wants to own car dealerships for himself. While working with his father and financial advisor, the three have a plan to save 80% of his salary and live on the other 20%.
“I think the biggest thing for me is trying to save as much money as possible,” he said.
The shares of Washington are live on the market and can be purchased right now. The minimum investment is $200 (2 shares of stock), and there is a contracted 5% dividend annually. Fans of Washington get the unique opportunity to invest and be apart of his wealth in the future. While the shares are not part of his on-court earnings, better performance could lead to more wealth in other areas such as endorsements.
This article is not to be used as financial advice.