Charlotte Hornets: Who should start between Miles Bridges and PJ Washington?

PJ Washington and Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
PJ Washington and Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

With training camp underway and the NBA season right around the corner, the Charlotte Hornets starting lineup looks just about solidified. There’s only one question mark as of now, amongst fans at least, on who will be starting at the power forward position between Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington.

The rest of the starting five is just about set in stone. LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, and Mason Plumlee will likely be four of the five players who step on the court for tip-off on Oct. 20 against the Indiana Pacers.

P.J. Washington should receive the majority of the minutes at center but should he remain the starter at the four?

That final spot is up for grabs between Bridges and Washington. Even though Plumlee is the likely starter at the center spot, expect Washington to receive the majority of the center minutes. The big question for Washington is if he should remain the starter ahead of Bridges going into the season. Fans from Twitter think the answer to that question is no.

Washington has started just about every game he’s played since he entered the NBA in 2019. He’s featured in 122 games, starting in 118 of them. Washington had a promising start to his career, averaging 12.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He’s also been a 38% three-point shooter since entering the league which is quite good for a big man.

It feels like just yesterday we witnessed him make 7 three-pointers in his NBA debut, an NBA record.

His second season was statically right on par with his first but there was this lingering sense of disappointment around him. Maybe that’s because he didn’t make a noticeable jump in year two, but the debate between him and Bridges started to rapidly heat up once Bridges entered the starting lineup due to some injuries.

Miles Bridges’ hot finish to the season could have him in a position to enter the starting lineup.

Bridges has been in and out of the starting lineup since he entered the league back in 2018. He started all but one game in his second year but was relegated to the bench last season with the addition of the former all-star Hayward.

This didn’t stop Bridges from continuing to develop. Bridges, along with Ball became the spark plug off the bench that the Hornets needed. The excitement, talent, and chemistry that the duo brought was must-see TV.

Since he was now a bench piece, naturally his stats didn’t see much progression. His points per game took a very small dip, going from 13.0 to 12.7, but rebounds and assists were up from 5.6 to 6.0 and 1.8 to 2.2 respectively. Once Hayward went down with an injury and Bridges stepped in, things started to become very interesting.

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As a starter, Bridges took a massive jump, specifically in his points per game. He averaged 10.4 points off the bench, and once inserted into the starting lineup, this jumped up to18.6 points, courtesy of Stat Muse.

It seemed as if he was starting to understand everything. Traits that were seen as a weakness for him seemingly started to look like a strength. He was very close, 4% to be exact, to joining the 50/40/90 club. Bridges ended the season on fire and while Washington wasn’t bad, he took more of a backseat role.

Who should start between the two?

The hot end to the season for Bridges has me in favor of inserting him into the starting lineup. If he can keep the hot hand and turn the next corner in his development stage, the Hornets could be looking at a very nice piece on their young roster.

The other factor in my decision is his chemistry with Ball. If Charlotte is all in on Ball being the face of the team for the future, ensuring he is comfortable on the court with the pieces around him is critical. This starts with “Air BnB”.

Washington, like Bridges, could also turn the corner and become an even more exciting prospect for the Hornets. There could also be a world where head coach James Borrego commits to small ball and both Bridges and Washington are starters.

Ultimately since Washington will receive the majority of the minutes at center, it will likely be he and Bridges who are finishing games. Who starts doesn’t matter too much. However, each option is exciting and we’ll just have to see what happens on Oct. 20.

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