Lakers News: Troy Brown Jr. Praises Rui Hachimura For Growth Since They Played Together On Wizards
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The team chemistry during the second half of the Los Angeles Lakers 2022-23 season was undeniable. After the trade deadline, the Lakers blended together exceptionally well on their run to the Western Conference Finals. Part of the reason for that was some of the built-in chemistry between players like Troy Brown Jr. and Rui Hachimura.

Brown and Hachimura played alongside one another for 1.5 seasons as members of the Washington Wizards. They were together for the entire 2019-20 season and half of the 2020-21 season before Brown was dealt to the Chicago Bulls. They got to play together once again on the Lakers after Hachimura was traded prior to the deadline.

During his exit interview, Brown spoke about Hachimura and the differences between the player he saw with the Wizards and the player he sees with the Lakers.

“I saw a lot of growth from Rui defensively this year,” Brown said. “It was great seeing him grow. I feel like when he first got here, he struggled a little bit trying to find his role. But as the season went on, you saw him in the playoffs. I think people questioned his three-pointer a lot and he knocked down a ton of shots for us in that Grizzlies series. He even had a big game in that Warriors series.

“And then, defensively, seeing him blocking shots from the opposite side and being able to guard (Nikola Jokic). It’s just one of those things, seeing him from his first year to now and definitely seeing that growth. It’s something that I’m proud of. Being his teammate early on and seeing the player that he’s become is great.”

Hachimura was not only a more complete player in L.A. than he was in Washington, he also looked happier to be playing. Brown had a theory for why that might be the case in this situation.

“I feel like that was more of our team chemistry this year,” Brown said. “Everybody was just very happy for each other. I feel like we had a lot of guys that could be starting on other teams but everybody just bought in. Even though out contract situations weren’t perfect, we all still had the same common goal of trying to win a championship and come together as one for that.

“Naturally, it makes you enjoy basketball and you don’t really worry about all the other things. You just take it one day at a time.”

Hopefully, this bodes well for Hachimura’s future with the Lakers. He is a restricted free agent, meaning all signs point to him returning to L.A. next season.

And if he can bring the joy and development from his first half-season with the Lakers, he could provide a serious boost for a team with championship expectations in 2023-24.

Lakers exploring sign-and-trade options for D’Angelo Russell

Having Hachimura and Austin Reaves as restricted free agents makes things easier for the Lakers, especially as they have an entire roster of unrestricted free agents and team options to focus on. One of those big decisions is D’Angelo Russell, and the Lakers already appear to be looking at all avenues for his unrestricted free agency.

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