The Washington Wizards traded Rui Hachimura to the Lakers for guard Kendrick Nunn and multiple second-round picks before the trade deadline expired in January. Hachimura is known for his versatile skillset and athleticism, and has quickly become a fan favorite in Los Angeles and around the world.
In fact, without Hachimura contribution- the Lakers would not be favored to defeat r the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Lakers head coach Darvin Ham attested to Hachimura playing style in the playoffs and credited him for activating a new level of play against a young talented team in Memphis (via spectrum sportsnet).
“He been great, said Ham. We have had our hiccups in certain segments of these games but for the most part whenever he plays with force, whenever he plays downhill and is active on the defensive end we are much a different team. We have to be proactive in that regards and he is the tone setter for that. People know they can be aggressive on the ball because he’s back there to clean up and defend the rim. Our defense and offense are just better.”
In his first playoff berth wearing purple and gold, Hachimura has created some very admirable highlights in the postseason. Thus far, he has been the first Laker in fifteen years with three consecutive games of 15 or more points off the bench. He’s also averaging 18.0 points on 57.8 percent shooting and 62.5 percent on 3-point shooting.
Hachimura game has flourished alongside Lebron James and Anthony Davis. His effort on the court has been nothing less than incredible and is arguably the second best player on the Lakers this series. Not only is he providing a spark off the bench, he’s collecting a new accolade every time he’s on the court.
In Game 1- he tied Mychal Thompson’s franchise playoff bench scoring record. Next game, he became the first Laker since Magic Johnson with back-to-back 20-point playoff games off the bench. Lastly, he’s had three straight bench playoff games of 15+ points.
The 25-year-old began playing basketball in Japan and then moved to the United States to play college basketball at Gonzaga University. He played for the Gonzaga Bulldogs for three seasons, from 2017 to 2019, and was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year in his junior season – so he’s no stranger to collecting awards.
In the 2019 NBA Draft, Hachimura was selected by the Washington Wizards with the ninth overall pick, becoming the first Japanese-born player to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. Since then, he has been a key player in the NBA and in his rookie season, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
More noticeably, Hachimura has shown he’s built for the big stage and can play at his best level in every game they are on the court.