There have been quite a few harsh critics on the Wizards first-round pick out there, including a post by Golden State of Mind’s Nate Parham that described it as follows:
“Among the most bizarre picks was the Washington Wizards selection of Rui Hachimura, the first Japanese-born player to be drafted in the first round, with the ninth pick of the draft. Apparently, they went full #blogboy and drafted him without ever having talked to him or worked him out ahead of time. Whatever you think of his NBA potential, that’s a weird way to run a franchise. But hey, Wizards gonna wizard.”
FiveThirtyEight’s Josh Planos described it as “this seems like quite a stretch. Washington entered the day bereft of a general manager and picked like it.”
Prior to the 2019 NBA Draft I chatted with NBA Draft analyst Matt Babcock who gave some of his thoughts on the Wizards imminent selection(s). I chatted with him again to get his take post-draft.
Bullets Forever: Do you feel that the Wizards drafting Rui Hachimura ninth overall was a reach? A lot of draft analysts criticized it heavily. Some went as far as calling it the weirdest move of the night.
Matt Babcock: I do not think this was a reach at all. I think he was the right pick! I have been high on Hachimura for a while. I actually think he should have been in consideration for picks even higher.
BF: Many people talked about Wizards never talking to Hachimura before the draft. How unusual is that? Some even called dysfunctional. What is your take?
MB: From my understanding, Hachimura’s agent ’shut him down’. There were whispers that he had a guarantee from a team. I don’t think Washington had the opportunity to bring him in for a workout.
I’m sure Washington would have preferred to meet with Rui and work him out. Regardless, I’m confident they evaluated him properly throughout the season and did their homework on him prior to the draft. They knew they wanted him and they got him! I think this was well done, considering the circumstances.
BF: Hypothetically, approximately what sort of pair of first round picks do you think a ninth pick could be converted to? Or what kind of first round + (multiple) second rounders?
MB: Each team evaluates players differently. Naturally, certain picks would serve more value to one team than the other. Therefore, each trade discussion is truly an isolated negotiation.
BF: The Wizards got the 42nd pick and picked up Jonathon Simmons for free. Usually second round picks cost more than that. I mean even if Simmons is waived it only costs about $1 million. That seems like a steal. What is your opinion on the move?
MB: I do think that was a good deal for Washington. Philadelphia is in an interesting situation as they have multiple high level free agents. Because of that, they are currently prioritizing financial flexibility.
Washington was able to get a solid player in Admiral Schofield as a result of taking on Simmons contract, providing the 76ers with some salary cap relief. Great move!
BF: The Wizards didn’t mention Simmons in the last couple days. Does that sort of indicate they really don’t intend to keep him? Simmons could feel slighted from it. I mean he is a decent player.
MB: I don’t have enough information to comment on this specific situation.
Thanks again to Matt for offering his take!