On Thursday night, many Wizards fans were heading into the NBA Draft filled with nerves about who they would select. Cam Reddish? Coby White? Nassir Little? Sekou Doumbouya? The possibilities were endless on what they could do with the ninth overall pick.
One of the players not mentioned in that list is Rui Hachimura. Hachimura, 21, was selected with the ninth overall pick by Tommy Sheppard in the hopes that the 6’8” forward can be exactly what they need. The Wizards believe Hachimura can be a big contributor both on and off the court, helping set a much-needed culture change within the organization. He also has a very high floor based on his college production and style of play. While Hachimura may not have been the best player available for the Wizards, it certainly helps the brand of the team going forward.
So, what exactly did the Wizards front office see in Rui Hachimura? Well, here are some of the numbers and traits that had the front office believing that they have added a needed component to the team.
Hachimura led Gonzaga with 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds last season. Not a volume perimeter shooter, he knocked down 41.7 percent on his 3-point attempts and has the ability to create fast break opportunities after rebounds.
“We knew it was going to be him,” Wizards interim GM Tommy Sheppard said of selecting Gonzaga’s leading scorer at nine despite the presence of other prospects including Duke’s Cam Reddish and France’s Sekou Doumbouya. “It was very close with a couple of players, but where he’s at, his potential and trajectory we felt great about [the pick].”
Rui also possess a 7’2” wingspan and a level of mobility that could help a Wizards defense that has immensely struggled over the past few years, leading to a 32-50 record last season. Rui also seems to believe that he can help the team out right away.
“I think I can play defense. Both sides, defense and offense,” Hachimura told reporters in Brooklyn, site of the 2019 NBA Draft. “I think I can impact the game. I can get rebounds and push the ball. I can shoot. I can pass. I think I can help the team a lot.”
Five things to know:
- Hachimura is an athletic scorer, most effective in the midrange and in the post. He is quick up and down the floor for his size and scores a lot in transition. Due to his size and downhill speed, some have compared him to Kawhi Leonard, who just won an NBA Championship this past season with the Toronto Raptors.
- Hachimura shot 41.7 percent from three at Gonzaga but that was only on one attempt per game. We shall see how Rui’s shooting skills will convert into the NBA, a league that relies more on the three-point shot as time goes along. During the entire span of his college career, he shot 31.6 percent from beyond the arc.
- He has some traits that suggest he could be a lockdown defender. His instincts on that side of the ball are as good as anyone in the league and his quick feet can help against shorter, faster players. However, his height may lead to a difficulty against taller players in the post.
- He didn’t start playing organized basketball until he was 14. Although he adapted well to the college game, he may still be just scratching the surface of his potential. This could be exciting for the Wizards as Hachimura has a huge upside that many have yet to see.
- Hachimura is from Japan. He is only the third Japanese-born NBA player and has already made the Wizards that more relevant over the past few days, both on a national and international scale. With the right development and coaching, he could become the greatest Japanese basketball player of all-time.