Rui Hachimura’s initial impression with the Los Angeles Lakers went well as he helped contribute to a win earlier this week against the San Antonio Spurs.
Hachimura came off the bench but still scored 12 points and pulled down six boards, a good first effort considering he had just arrived in Los Angeles the day prior. At 6’8″ and 230 pounds, Hachimura is a legitimate power forward who can slide up to the small forward spot when necessary, which gives Darvin Ham some much-needed flexibility with his lineup choices.
What makes the Japan native so interesting, though, is his ability to score the basketball in the midrange area. Outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers don’t have many players who can create for themselves. In his first game, L.A. showed it was happy to throw Hachimura in the post area and let him hunt his own scoring opportunities.
Still only 24 years old, Hachimura has plenty of room to grow and he is already drawing lofty comparisons from people like Phil Handy, via pickuphoop:
“Reminds me of this guy I coached in Toronto”
Phil Handy on Rui Hachimura pic.twitter.com/d5m4JN7qa8
— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) January 26, 2023
It’s hard to deny that Hachimura and Kawhi Leonard share some similarities in terms of physique and even offensive skillset. Like Leonard, Hachimura looks comfortable taking contact and shooting from 15 feet and beyond when on the floor. However, that might be where the comparisons end as Leonard is an all-world defender who has improved as a playmaker, two very clear weaknesses in Hachimura’s game at this point of his career.
That’s not to say that the forward can’t get there at some point, but he still has a long way to go if he hopes to reach the heights that Leonard has managed to hit. The Lakers probably aren’t expecting that sort of production and development from Hachimura, though he should be considered a long-term piece for the franchise as they look ahead to a future without James in it.
L.A. reportedly chose to trade for Hachimura over Cam Reddish, and so far that looks like the right move.
Rui Hachimura loved energy in Lakers debut
It’s always exciting for the fans when they get to see a new player suit for their team, and that was no different when Hachimura stepped onto the floor for the first time wearing purple and gold. Afterwards, Hachimura acknowledged he loved feeling the fans’ energy and suiting up next to James and Davis.
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