2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers Player Review: Rui Hachimura
Rui Hachimura, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With the Los Angeles Lakers struggling to keep pace in the Western Conference, the front office made their first in-season move by trading for Rui Hachimura. The Lakers sent out Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Hachimura, a gamble that paid off excellently well.

Los Angeles had a size deficit in the front court, but Hachimura solved that issue with his 6’8″ frame and physicality posting up smaller players. From the jump, the forward looked like a solid third option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis as someone who could create his own shot late in the clock.

Oddly enough, though, Hachimura saw his minutes decline in the regular season and even drew a coaching DNP from Darvin Ham. However, Ham quickly realized his mistake as he started to play Hachimura more and the results were great as the Japan native began to find his groove again.

It wasn’t until the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies that Hachimura really began to shine. Hachimura thrived in the postseason setting where the game slowed down and teams were forced to defend more in the half court. Using his size, Hachimura was able to score over smaller defenders but his outside jump shot also came around.

Ham had almost not choice but to play Hachimura extended minutes against Memphis, but saw himself losing minutes in the next round against Golden State Warriors. The pendulum swung again in Hachimura’s favor against the Denver Nuggets as Los Angeles needed more size to compete with the eventual NBA champions.

All in all, Hachimura improved his free agency prospects with a strong playoff run and should be a priority for the Lakers to re-sign in the summer.

2022-23 Highlight

Hachimura didn’t take very long to make an impact in the first round of the postseason as he led the Lakers in scoring in Game 1 against the Grizzlies. The 25-year-old led the team in scoring with 29 points, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Memphis was content leaving Hachimura open in order to slow down James and Davis and he certainly made them pay for it.

2023-24 Outlook

Hachimura will be a restricted free agent and he is expected to command around $15 million annually on his new deal. Los Angeles is able to match any offer that he receives in free agency, and with how important he became when the games mattered most it would definitely be in their best interest to bring him back no matter the cost.

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