It’s Rui Hachimura’s Time to Shine

The NBA returns on July 30th at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World. The Washington Wizards have a slim chance to fight for a playoff spot but they need Rui Hachimura to step up even more.

The Wizards are 5.5 games behind the Magic and six games behind the Nets for the last playoff spots in the East, with eight contests to play.

Even forcing a play-in tournament by being within four games of the 8th seed seems tough. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans are all out. The team still has a lot of talent and Hachimura has to relish the opportunity in front of him.

Why Hachimura is Washington’s Best Player Right Now

Rui Hachimura can prove that he’s the best player on the roster right now. It’s too early to say if he can be a franchise player but the way he can create for himself on offense separates him from the rest of his current teammates not named Wall or Beal.

The rookie forward is a player who can impact the game in multiple ways. Hachimura can score but he also displayed commitment to playing defense.

Hachimura’s constant movement without the ball is an overlooked quality of his. The way he looks for the open side of the floor or for opportunities to post up smaller defenders usually goes unnoticed but he is a very smart player. He is not selfish, if he doesn’t have a clear shot, he has no problem with passing the ball.

Right now he is shooting 47.8 percent overall and 82.9 percent from the free-throw line. Hachimura also has enough size and strength to push the ball himself on fastbreaks. He will only get better and improve his shot selection and one-on-one game.

Hachimura’s Stats This Season

Hachimura is averaging 13.4 points per game, third on the team behind Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans. Points illustrate just part of the story but this stat in particular evidences that Hachimura will likely be the go-to player on offense in Orlando.

The level of confidence that Hachimura has displayed so far is inspiring. The Wizards don’t really have any plays called for Hachimura and he still made the right decisions, which speaks volumes of his basketball IQ. He also averages 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 29.7 minutes over 41 games.

The 21-year-old also has intangibles that are not included on the stat sheet. We already talked about how he moves without the ball but he also displayed willingness to learn from his teammates and go hard on every possession. The way he battles until the end will help the Wizards not only in the NBA restart but for years to come.

Eduardo Solano