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Scouts not high on Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura: ‘I want to hope there’s more there’

Jason Burgos
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Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

While former Washington Wizards lottery pick Rui Hachimura is an NBA-level player, there are some growing doubts the four-year veteran will reach the potential the organization once saw in him.

Gonzaga standout Rui Hachimura has been bedeviled by injuries for the entirety of his NBA career. As a rookie in 2019-2020, he only suited up in 48 games. Over the next two seasons, he averaged 49.5 games and played in a career-low 42 last season (only 13 starts). Hachimura’s health issues have severely hampered his status on the team and it led them to acquire Kyle Kuzma, and install him as their starting power forward in 2021-2022.

Related: Wizards unlikely to make a trade to clear out swingman logjam before 22-23 season

Kuzma delivered by starting in 66 games and averaging 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Suffice to say, the job is his for as long as he wants it or the organization decides he has more value as a trade chip and ships him elsewhere. The question then is, what is Hachimura’s potential in the league as he enters his fourth year in the league?

Scouts pessimistic about the potential of Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura

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Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

In a recent column, The Athletic’s Wizards beat writer Josh Robbins asked just that to several NBA scouts. One saw positives in the fact that Hachimura’s three-point game has shown improvement and gives him more versatility out of the four spot. However, they don’t see NBA starter potential from the native of Japan.

“To have improved as a 3-point shooter is encouraging, and that allows him to kind of accelerate to the same type of profile that maybe [Deni Avdija] has, where he can be a multi-position player and, at the same time, have a definable offensive role. I’m a little bit less optimistic about his ability to be a starting-caliber player on a good team. He seems to have settled into this position where he may just be a good role player, a bench player. I hope that he has more because he was someone that had a lot of interest in college when he was coming out of Gonzaga. I want to hope that there’s more there.”

Scouts on Hachimura’s potential

A second scout agreed with the assertion of Hachimura’s ceiling as a bench player who can give a team scoring from the reserve unit. However, they didn’t see the future start potential any team would hope for when taking a player in the top-10 of the NBA draft.

“Is he a starter on a good team? I’m not sure about that. But as a sixth man type? And if he can continue with the 3s? That’s a nice piece. He’s now going into his fourth year, and he averaged 11 or 12 (points) in fewer minutes. If you can get 15 off the bench from him and he shoots a reasonably high percentage from 3, then a lot of teams would like that even though he’s somewhat limited overall. I don’t think he’s a great basketball player. I think he’s a very good scorer.”

Scouts on Hachimura’s potential