Newly acquired Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura is slowly finding his stride. He’s scored in double figures in three of his first four games with the Lakers. Hachimura struggled from the field against the Boston Celtics last Saturday but responded with two efficient games in back-to-back nights.
He’s also started two games for the Lakers, including one alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Hachimura originally came off the bench, but the plan all along was for him to start next to James and Davis.
In his second start, Hachimura played 40 minutes against the New York Knicks on the second leg of a back-to-back. He had 19 points and nine rebounds on 66% shooting from the field. Hachimura was more aggressive, looking to find his shot compared to his first two games as a Laker.
There will still be a bit of a learning curve for Hachimura, but LeBron liked what he saw from the forward against the Knicks, via NBA.com:
“He was aggressive from the beginning of the game to the end. We don’t want Rui to fit in, we want him to fit out. We don’t want him to come in and just be on some cool because that’s what he is, he’s cool. He’s super cool, very low key, low maintenance. But, his ability and what he can bring to our team, we need him to showcase that every night for us. And like AD said, be aggressive from the very beginning and he was that all the way until the very end. Finishing off his performance with that block. So, you know, it’s a great piece to have and we’re lucky to have him.”
The most important attribute Hachimura brings to the Lakers is his size, immediately evident when the Lakers acquired him. At 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, he’s a huge boost to a Lakers roster that is still guard heavy.
Putting him next to James and Davis in a lineup can create mismatches on offense. Through just four games, the Lakers have already tried to hunt those advantages. When smaller players match up with Hachimura, he will usually get a possession or two immediately in the post.
Hachimura came out aggressive against the Knicks with 12 points in the first half. Though he wasn’t looking to score as much in the second half, Hachimura was on the floor to end the game and in overtime — crucial for him and the Lakers to develop trust.
Rui Hachimura discusses how transition to Lakers has been so far
After being drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2018, Rui Hachimura had never been dealt anywhere else. The four-year forward got his first taste of a new environment once he was traded to the Lakers last week.
It could have been a difficult transition for Hachimura when he found out he was traded, but his transition has been positive.
“I think it’s been good, it’s been great. The coaches, of course the players they’ve been talking to me during the game, after the game,” he said. “The practices, watch a lot of film and learn those plays and the defensive contests. I think for me it’s been easier for me to get used to this and adjust.”
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