Hornets' PJ Washington sets record for 3-pointers in NBA debut

CHARLOTTE -- After a record-breaking NBA debut, former Kentucky star PJ Washington wasn't quite sure what he had accomplished for the Charlotte Hornets once the final buzzer sounded.

However, it didn't take long for him to find out.

The 12th overall pick made a huge splash in Wednesday's 126-125 win over the Chicago Bulls, draining seven 3-pointers, the most in the NBA's 3-point era (since 1979-80), according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Washington netted five before halftime.

"I didn't know until after the game," Washington said of the record. "I did a radio interview, and they told me. I didn't even know. I was just trying to make shots and just get back and play defense, so I'm just excited."

There were no first-game jitters, as Washington finished with 27 points, a Hornets franchise record for points by a rookie in a season opener.

His career high at Kentucky was 29 points, set on Dec. 8, 2018, against Seton Hall. He never made more than five 3s in a game while with the Wildcats.

"The college game is way different from the NBA," he said. "The NBA game is kind of built on 3s and layups now, and in college it's just grinding it out, so definitely in the NBA, you get a lot more attempts on 3s, and basically nobody shoots midranges anymore. It's either a 3 or a layup, and you've basically got to make them."

Jake Layman (2016) and Donyell Marshall (1994) each made five 3-point field goals in their NBA debuts. Washington went 5-for-8 from beyond the arc in the first half, then hit his sixth 3 in the third quarter to break the record before adding to it in the fourth.

Washington's seven treys tied the most in a season opener in NBA history.

"When you see a couple go through like that, it gives you that confidence, and he's just smart, a smart young kid, and he knows how to play," Hornets guard Devonte' Graham.

The Hornets as a team made 23 3-pointers, the most in franchise history in a non-overtime game. Their record is 24, but that came in a double-OT game.

Initially, Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach James Borrego anticipated Washington spending some time in the G-League with other Charlotte rookies to sharpen his skills, but that doesn't look like it will be the case anymore.

"He's going there tomorrow," Borrego said jokingly after the game. "He's already in the car.

"No, he was great, and the thing with this kid is he's poised, he's not full of himself, and to me, he's going to come back tomorrow and work. If not, we'll have a conversation, and I don't expect that."