TyTy Washington's Pick-and-Roll Creation | The Friday Screener
TyTy Washington's offense is much more expansive than just shooting.
TyTy Washington has quickly emerged as the standout point guard in the 2022 NBA Draft class. This class is relatively weak in terms of point guard quality, but that shouldn’t detract from the success and growth that the Kentucky Wildcat freshman continues to show. At the beginning of the season, Washington was spending most of his minutes in an off-ball role. Recently, though, we’ve seen Washington accept more on-ball responsibilities, which has led to an encouraging display of pick-and-roll ball-handling.
So far this season, Washington ranks in the 73rd percentile in pick-and-roll scoring as the ball-handler with 0.867 points per possession (PPP), per Synergy. Washington isn’t an overwhelming athlete, so he will likely require a screen to create substantial space, at least early in his career, often. Thankfully, Washington is incredibly comfortable operating the pick-and-roll, adept at getting to his spots, and deadly inside the arc.
Something we commonly see from Washington’s isolation game is his ability to get to his spot in the mid-range and elevate cleanly for a jumper. This tendency is also extremely common when a screen is added to the equation, as he is scoring 1.033 PPP (75th percentile) when he dribbles off a screen.
Here, we see Washington deny the screen, which puts the drop defender out of position. Washington is also aided by Oscar Tshiebwe rapidly flipping the angle of the screen to disrupt the defender’s pursuit. After a quick crossover, Washington gets to the elbow and knocks down the jumper.
Washington didn’t do anything overly complicated. He went the opposite direction of the drop defender, executed a quick crossover, and knocked down an open jumper. What is so impressive, though, is the decisiveness in which he does it. The time it takes Washington to recognize the defense and attack is minuscule. Part of the intrigue with Washington’s game is how confidently simplistic and effective it can be. Instead of overcomplicating the play or barreling into defenders at the rim, Washington pulled up from 15 feet where he is scoring 1.536 PPP (100th percentile).
Just because Washington doesn’t resort to flair, doesn’t mean he is averse to it. This time, Tshiebwe slips the side pick-and-roll and pops to the elbow. Washington sees the drop defender is impeding his path to the rim, his defender is tight on his hip, and the weak side defender is taking away the pocket pass and likely a skip pass. To counter, Washington simply slams on the breaks as his defender flies past, takes a step back, and knocks down the jumper.
What makes Washington so difficult to defend out of the pick-and-roll is the myriad of ways he can score. Even though he is one of the most effective mid-range shooters in the country, he is still deadly around the rim, making life incredibly difficult for drop defenders. So far this season, Washington is scoring 1.333 PPP when he attacks the rim after dribbling off a screen.
Here, Washington nearly sends the opposing center back to the JV team with how he exposes him in the pick-and-roll. Once again, Washington is aided by a robust Tshiebwe screen and attacks downhill. As Washington gets to the elbow, the drop defender is in proper position. To dispatch him, Washington uses a slick hang dribble to simulate a pocket pass, which sends the drop defender the wrong way. Washington accelerates to the rim for the easy layup.
Washington’s ability to pull-up from three is a weapon in its own right, but it also creates opportunities for him to get to mid-range jumpers and floaters. Given his size and athleticism, Washington’s at-rim finishing will likely be less effective against more seasoned and athletic NBA rim protectors. Since his defender will have to chase him over screens, instead of going under, Washington will have the freedom to attack downhill, which means he can dismantle teams with his floater. Many young players struggle with their floater, but Washington ranks in the 92nd percentile with 1.172 PPP on his floaters, which account for 18.5 percent of his shots.
Here, Washington runs off the dribble handoff (yes, I know I’m cheating a little), and his defender mainly avoids the screen to stay tight on Washington. The defender’s positioning essentially eliminates the option of a pull-up, and the opposing center is lurking under the rim, making a layup unlikely. To compound matters, the help defender aggressively digs on Washington’s drive. Washington is unfazed, though, as he Euro steps to split the double before dropping in the soft floater.
While adept pick-and-roll scoring is crucial for point guards, there also has to be an adequate level of playmaking. Thankfully, Washington continues to display impressive playmaking chops out of the pick-and-roll with varying levels of difficulty. Overall, Washington’s passes generate 1.282 PPP (92nd percentile), while his passes to the roller generate 1.4 PPP (90th percentile) and his passes to spot-up shooters generate 1.148 PPP (82nd percentile). Washington isn’t an overly flashy playmaker, but his passing accuracy and patience allow him to dissect defenses.
Here, Tshiebwe’s screen creates a two vs one situation. Instead of faking a pocket pass as we saw before, Washington stares at the rim to convince the drop defender he is pulling up. Instead of shooting, though, Washington rewards Tshiebwe with a perfect pocket pass to set up the dunk.
This time, Kentucky runs a side pick-and-roll, and Tshiebwe slips the screen for an elbow jumper. Both defenders go with Washington while the help defender shades over to take away Tshiebwe. Earlier, we saw Washington knock down a step-back jumper, but this time, Washington picks up his dribble and fakes the pass to Tshiebwe. This fake gets both help defenders to bite and recover to Tshiebwe, allowing Washington to set up the cutter for an easy dunk.
TyTy Washington’s best role in the NBA may be as an off-guard or as the de facto point guard alongside a wing creator. However, he continues to show that his offensive repertoire is far more expansive than just shooting. Washington is killer in the mid-range, adept around the rim, and lethal with the floater. Washington is an impressive all-around scorer, but his ability to run a pick-and-roll elevates not only his but also the entire team’s offensive capabilities.