Rui Hachimura: Washington’s Leader in Orlando


Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura has proved he can be a leader alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal in the future. On a team stacked with unproven youngsters, the Wiz drafted Rui to bring immediate production. So he did. Hachimura quickly bridged the gap from Gonzaga to the NBA and started every game for Washington– all while representing his nation.

The Japanese Bulldog

Hachimura signed with Gonzaga in 2016 after long struggles to meet the NCAA’s SAT and English requirements. Known for international signings, head coach Mark Few worked to develop Rui’s game to breed success at the NBA level.

The forward impressed his junior season, helping defeat then-No. 1 Duke at the Maui Invitational. He finished the year averaging 19.7 PPG and 6.5 RPG while shooting 59 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three.

Consequently, he earned West Coast Conference Player of the Year. At 6-foot-8 with a mix of strength and athleticism, Hachimura became an elite scorer who added versatility on the defensive end. The Wizards, needing instant production to help Bradley Beal, drafted Rui ninth overall.

Media Sensation

Hachimura became the first Japanese player drafted in the first round. As a result, he accrued an immense following that displayed itself right away. During the 2019 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, mobs of media overlooked the likes of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett to follow Hachimura’s every move. 61 credentialed Japanese media members followed Rui through summer league practices and games. He headlined Japanese day-time news. Hachimura knew he was a national figure.

“One of my jobs is to represent Japan. People want to see me right now. I’m everywhere right now in Japan on TV, newspapers. I am doing it for my country and the little kids watching me.” – Rui Hachimura`

All-Rookie Team

Rui played in 41 games during his rookie year, starting each one. He suffered a groin surgery in December, however, causing him to miss six weeks. Despite the setback, Rui’s return provided a spark for Washington before the season was suspended. Going into the NBA bubble, Hachimura is in the conversation for the All-Rookie First Team.

  • 13.4 PPG (sixth among rookies)
  • 6.0 RPG (second among rookies)
  • 6.7 Turnover Ratio (lowest among rookies)
  • 13.91 PER (11th among rookies)

But with notable play from rookie guards Ja Morant and Kendrick Nunn, and forwards Zion Williamson and Eric Paschall, First-Team seems unlikely.

Rui’s role in Washington is huge, however. He is currently third on the team in PPG, second in RPG, and second in minutes per game. In Orlando, Hachimura’s development as a defender and a leader is the biggest focus for head coach Scott Brooks. Teammate Mo Wagner also spoke out about Hachimura’s growth in confidence and development in leadership.

“We need him to speak up and be consistent with that and have a confidence and feel comfortable in this environment. I think he’s proven that the last couple days.” – Mo Wagner

In three scrimmage games thus far, Hachimura has not missed a beat. He leads the team in points (17.3) and rebounds (7.3). And without Beal, all eyes are on Hachimura to be the heart of the Wizards young Orlando roster.

About Sebastian Doppenberg

Clemson '23 // Contributor for The Lead (Wizards)

Recommended for you

Powered by themekiller.com