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2019 NBA Draft Profiles: Rui Hachimura could be a solid combo forward for the Wizards, but still needs developmental experience

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The junior forward from Gonzaga has developed nicely for the Bulldogs. But are the Wizards picking him too early at No. 9?

NCAA Basketball Tournament - West Regional - Anaheim
Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura could be the Wizards’ next ... Antawn Jamison. But are the Wizards picking him too early?
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Our series of 2019 NBA Draft prospects continues as we write about prospects who could feasibly be the Wizards’ first round pick at ninth overall. Today, we will write about Rui Hachimura, a junior forward from Gonzaga.

Rui Hachimura, Forward, Gonzaga Bulldogs

Where is he from? — Hachimura was born in Toyama, Japan. He was under the radar until the FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and became only the fifth Japanese player to play NCAA Division I men’s basketball.

How did he do in college? In 2018-19, Hachimura averaged 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as he led the Bulldogs to an Elite Eight appearance in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Strengths

Hachimura can bring a lot of things to the table for the Wizards like:

  • Versatile scoring ability — Whether he is asked to shoot from close to the basket or from three point range, Hachimura can do it. That said, he attempted just 36 threes in his last college season.
  • Athleticism and size — Hachimura has very good size and strength as a small forward. If he plays at this position for most of his NBA career, he could be a strong defender provided that he develops a more consistent shot. If so, our own Kevin Broom thinks he is a good choice.

Weaknesses

Hachimura’s weaknesses include the following:

  • He’s a tweener forward — At 6’8, he’s a tall small forward, yet short and not quite strong enough to play power forward. He’s a good rebounder and can shoot the three based on his small sample size, but he doesn’t have enough of a perimeter shooting game to play at the wing full time. In a positionless basketball era, he could do quite well on. offense but he may have to be camouflaged on the other end.
  • Lack of organized experience — Most NBA Draft prospects have played basketball for much of their childhood. In Hachimura’s case, he started as a teenager.

What was Hachimura’s best game as a college player?

On Nov. 21, Hachimura scored 20 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished 5 assists in an 89-87 win against Duke in the 2018 Jim Maui Invitational.

Fit for the Wizards

If the Wizards draft Hachimura, he will probably spend significant time with the Go-Go. Though he could be a versatile forward like longtime Wizard Antawn Jamison, he is still quite new to the game. That said, the right coaches can teach him good habits.

I don’t have a problem with Hachimura coming to Washington like I do with Oregon center Bol Bol. But like most of the other prospects whom the Wizards have available, Hachimura is still not ready to make a major impact at the NBA level. Fortunately, the Wizards have a G-League team now so he can spend time gaining professional playing experience that he may otherwise not get with the Wizards.


If you feel Hachimura is or isn’t a good fit with the Wizards, let us know in the comments below.