The Wizards took Hachimura with the 9th pick of the draft in 2019.
I remember this being pretty polarizing, as Kevin Broom and others had him much lower. I think the draw was the big scoring numbers he put up on good efficiency (nearly 20ppg, 60 FG%, 74 FT%) which managed to cover a lot of other areas of his game that were not that advanced. Antawn Jamison was mentioned as a comp, which I feel is actually pretty accurate in some ways, although I think it is also debatable if someone putting up Antawn Jamison numbers today could still be an all-star. A lot of his deficiencies as a player have been exposed his first two years in the pros. He did not look like a great defender at Gonzaga and projected to be below average in the pros. While an able creator from the mid-range in college, his game also looked sort of mechanical and didn't have much natural IQ to it. Shooting the 3ball at a great percentage in college on a low volume always gives NBA execs a lot of hope for the future, but that is another thing that didn't translate immediately to the NBA. Overall, I believe he has a way to go to becoming a player that helps his team win games, two years in he is a master of the least important NBA skill, generating buckets in the mid range, while still behind in everything else.
Rating the power forwards from the 2019 draft I would rank them:
1. Zion Williamson
2. PJ Washington
3. Cameron Johnson
4. Brandon Clarke
5. Rui Hachimura
6. Grant Williams
7. Eric Paschall
In my mind 2-4 are all interchangeable to some degree, and 5-7 are as well.
PJ Washington is a modern 4 in most ways: can shoot the ball, defend his positon as well as play small ball 5 effectively, get some buckets with straight line drives and off-ball movement. Does not have the mid-range creation that Hachimura has, but he is a well-rounded and moderately versatile player, better in just about all other areas except FT shooting.
Cameron Johnson was such a surprise at the 11th pick that I remember some live analysis sites mistook the pick with one for Keldon Johnson. But he has been a key part of Phoenix's finals run. I feel the most underrated part of his game is his defensive mobility, he won't be abused on defense which is key for a shooting specialist on a playoff team. On offense his shooting and high IQ are better than what Hachimura brings to the table at the moment.
Brandon Clarke was a better player in college than Hachimura and has arguably managed to repeat the trick in the pros, albeit in less minutes. The knock on him originally was his size, which in the pros has kept him out of the starting lineups, but he has been a very good bench player for Memphis, even including his tailing off at the end of last year (and 4 DNP CDs in the playoff series vs Utah) Even without a working 3pt shot, and his injuries, Brandon Clarke is a valuable bench player that helps win games during the regular season which is more than can be said for Hachimura, even if Rui plays more minutes.
My question: will he still be a starting player by the end of the next year? Can he realistically expect to surpass any of the players above him on this list?
I believe any of these players were better picks for the Wizards than Hachimura. Even, Grant Williams has been a passable undersized defensive big who if can show some semblance of an offensive game could surpass Hachimura. That being said, Hachimura came to the game late and could still improve, but worryingly, he needs to most improve in areas on offense and defense that can't really be taught. Even if he becomes a high level and efficient scorer, I doubt he'll develop the passing skills to go along with it. He's also improved some on defense (he even gave Giannis trouble) but isn't a consistent difference maker on this end either. The rebounding and defensive playmaking are also not there.
My hope is that Hachimura improves as a defender, becomes a 3pt sharpshooter, and overall reaches his potential as a scoring juggernaut. That would be awesome, and Spencer Dinwiddie's statement on being part of a "Big 3" would become true. Realistically though, I think Kuzma is a better player at the 4 at this point, and that Hachimura will get transitioned to a bench role this next season. Am I out of line here? What are your thoughts?