The Wizards selected forward Rui Hachimura with the 9th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) June 21, 2019
Hachimura, 21, comes in at 6’8″ and 230lbs. He played three seasons at Gonzaga, starting 39 games including all 37 this season. A native of Toyama, Japan- the first Japanese-born player ever to be drafted in the lottery- he enjoyed a career year scoring 19.7 PPG with 6.5 REB and 1.5 AST on his way to WCC Player of the Year honors. He shot 59% from the field and 74% from the free-throw line.
Hachimura can play multiple positions in the NBA. He is especially stout in the post and in the mid-range, and can break defenders down one-on-one. A highly intelligent player, he can sometimes serve as a ball-handler on the fastbreak and will bring a big energy boost to the Wizards offense.
Defensively, Hachimura is challenged. Despite a 7’1″ wingspan, he can struggle on-the-ball and off-the-ball, missing assignments and being out of position. He’ll have to improve that at the next level especially for the Wizards, who as a team have struggled defensively for years, even more so in the Scott Brooks era.
Despite players like Cam Reddish and Sekou Doumbaya falling, Interim VP of Basketball Operations Tommy Sheppard elected for Hachimura, saying, “We knew it was going to be him.”
Tommy Sheppard on #Wizards potentially drafting someone besides Rui Hachimuri: "We knew it was going to be him. It was very close with a couple players, but I think the fact of where he's at in his potential and his trajectory, we felt great about it." pic.twitter.com/uR9C1693kp
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) June 21, 2019
Where does Rui fit on the Wizards?
Because of his experience, he may be able to slot into the starting five right away. The Wizards don’t currently have any forwards under contract, though Bobby Portis or Jabari Parker may be brought back as restricted free agents. It may be best for the Wizards to thrust Hachimura right into the fire and hope he can improve on the fly.
Overall, it’s a pick that may come as a disappointment to some with the players available on the board, but it’d be best for Wizards fans to give Hachimura time and hope to see nothing more than gradual improvement throughout his rookie season.