Before I reveal the answer to the clickbait headline, let me start by making this clear: Rui Hachimura isn’t bad. Last season, after missing half the season due to personal reasons, he was about average when he played.
Here’s a look at some of the stats I use when evaluating players (box score stats are per 100 team possessions, unless otherwise noted):
- Offensive rating (points produced per 100 individual possessions): 113
- Usage: 19.7% (average is 20.0%)
- Points: 25.3
- Rebounds: 8.5
- Assists: 2.6
- Steals: 1.2
- Blocks: 0.5
- Turnovers: 1.8
- Fouls: 2.8
- Free throw attempts: 3.5
- efg: 56.3%
- 2pt%: 51.2%
- 3pt%: 44.7%
- FT%: 69.7%
Compared to average, he was about 1 point per 100 possessions better than league average on offense. His improved-to-the-point-of-excellent three-point shooting was offset by below average shooting on twos, subpar free throw shooting, a lack of playmaking, anemic offensive rebounding, relatively few trips to the free throw line, and a below-average three-point attempt rate.
Defense is a weakness. His awareness remained atrocious — he generally seemed oblivious to offensive actions that didn’t directly involve his man. Opposing teams regularly drove across his face, and he reacted late or not at all. His defensive contributions were primarily getting defensive boards that bounced to him.
This showed in the on/off numbers. The team was about 4.1 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he sat, mostly because they shot better — 54.9% efg when he was on the floor vs. 52.2% when he was off. League average was 53.2%.
And here’s the thing: most of that shooting difference is in two-point shooting. Hachimura’s on/off numbers benefitted from marginally unlucky opponent shooting from three-point range.
Despite the defensive problems, Hachimura’s overall impact was a shade below league average, according to my PPA metric.
To the Doppelgänger Machine.
For those unfamiliar, my Statistical Doppelgänger Machine works by comparing a player’s performance across 14 different categories that include age, playing time, pace-neutral box score stats and scores from my PPA metric. All that’s rolled up into a single score that (in theory) provides a list of NBA players since 1977-78 with similar production at a similar age.
In Hachimura’s case, the machine produced SF and PF types who generally topped out as decent role players. One guy is remarkably similar in his pattern of production in multiple seasons. According to the Doppelgänger Machine, Hachimura is the second coming of Chase Budinger.
- Chase Budinger, Houston Rockets, 2011-12, age 23 — A second-round selection, Budinger’s best seasons were years one, two and three of his career. They’re all among the 10 most similar to Hachimura last season. Their profiles are similar: scoring at basically league average efficiency on slightly below average usage, and...not much else. Just like Hachimura, Budinger even got hot from three-point range in his third season. Budinger never shot close to that well from long range again.
- Chase Budinger, Houston Rockets, 2010-11, age 22 — See #1. Budinger’s career PPA progression over his first three seasons (in PPA, average is 100 and higher is better: 85, 92, 98). That 98 was the high mark for his career. For Hachimura: 95, 75, 97.
- Peja Stojakovic, Sacramento Kings, 1999-00, age 22 — While they were similar at 22, Stojakovic was a) better (112 PPA to Hachimura’s 97), and b) showing signs that his improved three-point shooting was for real. For Hachimura, the poor free throw shooting and relatively low volume are reasons for some hesitancy in simply accepting he’s a three-point shooting god now. Stojakovic shot well from three in this comp season (37.5%) and great from the free throw line (88.2%). He peaked as a high-efficiency offensive player with above average usage, and a PPA of 192.
- Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte Hornets, 2017-18, age 24 — Kaminsky is more a PF/C than a PF/SF like Hachimura, but their production is similar across the board — from usage to efficiency to three-point attempt rate to rebounding to assists to steals to blocks. One difference: Kaminsky got the free throw line more often. Kaminsky is still kinda around — he appeared in 9 games with the Suns last season.
- Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic, 2017-18, age 22 — The fifth overall pick in 2017, Hezonja lasted five seasons. This comp season was his best — an 87 PPA. Hezonja was alleged to be a good shooter, but it never really translated to NBA games.
- Chase Budinger, Houston Rockets, 2009-10, age 21 — See one and two, above.
- Marcus Morris, Phoenix Suns, 2013-14, age 24 — Like his brother, Markieff, Morris has (at least in my analysis) been routinely overrated throughout his career. He’s been decent, though his next above average season will be his first, according to PPA. In this comp season (his third in the league), Morris’ three-point shooting surged to 38.1%. He wouldn’t shoot that well from distance for another six seasons. He’s become a good three-point shooter in his 30s.
- Linas Kleiza, Denver Nuggets, 2007-08, age 23 — This comp season was the best of Kleiza’s career. He produced a 91 PPA, primarily on the strength of improved two-point shooting. He was finished in the NBA at age 28.
- Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets, 2012-13, age 25 — Where Chandler feels most similar to Hachimura was the talk from Nuggets fans year after year about Chandler being ready to break out. Except, he never did. He got about average (99 PPA) in this comp season and got as high as 93 four years later, but he never cracked average. He lasted 12 seasons before calling it quits at age 32.
- Mike Scott, Atlanta Hawks, 2013-14, age 25 — Scott provided great value for a second-round pick. He lasted 9 seasons, and four of his first five rated 80+ in PPA. His peak was a 90 at age 27. Naturally, the Wizards signed him two years later at age 29.
While there’s some stylistic variety in these comps, the overall quality is depressingly consistent. The lone elite player from the group (Stojakovic) seems somewhat improbable unless Hachimura can maintain three-point shooting excellence while boosting his volume, improve from the free throw line, draw more fouls, and fix his defense. Easy, right?
If you’re hoping that the guys further down the list are better, stop it. The next group of guys includes names like Tracy Murray, Charlie Villanueva, Walter Herrmann, Trey Lyles, and Martell Webster.
Jabari Parker’s age 22 season would have landed as fifth most similar if I hadn’t dropped it because he appeared in just 31 games after tearing his ACL.
I’ve heard some fans hope that Hachimura can become about the quality of Tobias Harris, but Harris’ most similar season (age 24) just isn’t all that similar. Hope for it, sure, but don’t expect it.
Who’s next through the Doppelgänger Machine?
This poll is closed