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What they're saying about the Wizards selecting Rui Hachimura
Following the Wizards selecting Rui Hachimura with the ninth pick overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, here are reactions from media members and outlets around the league.
Jay Bilas (ESPN): “The second player from Japan to be drafted, and it’s a huge deal culturally. There are 46 media members representing 23 outlets from Japan. It is more than any other country besides the United States.
“His name means Baseball Bases. His grandfather was a huge baseball fan. [He] came to Gonzaga barely speaking English and acclimated himself quickly. Mark Few told me he’s such a polite guy that he was flabbergasted early on that sometimes his teammates will lie about fouls and the score in pickup games. Can you imagine that? Guys doing that?
“What a season he had. He averaged almost 20 points per game. He’s a very talented guy who can do a lot of different things. He already has an endorsement deal that has been signed because of the excitement over the starting of his NBA career here in the United States [Nissin Foods]. Those in Japan are very excited… He won the Julius Erving Award as the top small forward in the country.
You look at what Rui [Hachimura] can do. At 6-9, Rui Hachimura has a really strong body, a great athletic profile. [He’s] a really efficient two-point scorer, shooting 59 percent from the field. Excellent mid-range, got a really good pull-up game, a really good finisher around the rim… He’s a solid defender with a 7-2 wingspan, and he has been very well coached at Gonzaga and brought along. I think he’s going to be an excellent NBA player. Love the pick.”
Chauncey Billups (ESPN): "Don’t get this confused ladies and gentlemen, a young Kawhi Leonard I see out of this kid. He can play defense, [he can play] on both ends, he was a really good player at Gonzaga. I think he’ll be a better pro. In space he can shoot it, he can get to the basket, [he has] big hands, been taught well. It’s a very good pick-up.
NBA TV Draft Coverage on Rui Hachimura: “Well, he has developed as well as, you could argue, any player in college basketball the last couple years. I was actually in Japan with Gonzaga when they played Pitt when they recruited Rui Hachimura. This is years ago, and they had no idea he was going to become this good. At Gonzaga, players have been able to do this. He is a sponge. He’s just learning English, he’s just picked it up even more so. By the way, Washington is a great fit, international city obviously, for Rui Hachimura. He’s got 46 members of the Japanese media following him here. I think he will love playing in the nation’s capital, and I certainly think that fans in D.C. will be drawn to his charismatic behavior."
Brendan Haywood on the selection: “Listen, I don’t know about the charismatic behavior, but I do know about his game. I love his game, I love the fact that he’s a pitbull inside, but more important, he gives you versatility in the pick-and-roll game. I keep stressing about the mid pick-and-roll—that’s what today’s NBA is all about. Rui Hachimura is a big that’s offense has improved, but the thing that I like about him: he can switch on a pick-and-roll and you don’t feel like he’s a big on an island, like he’s a fish out of water. He can slide in speed, kinda similar to what we saw Kevon Looney do for the Golden State Warriors at times in the playoffs. Rui Hachimura can bring that to the Washington Wizards.”
Steve Smith on NBA TV: “He’s very consistent. Scored in double figures in 35 out of 37 games. He has a very good midrange shot. I know everybody’s gonna say “He needs a three-point shot.” Everybody can’t have a three-point shot in day one, but he has a very good midrange. He averaged 19-and-six on a winning program and he still has some upside. Great size, this is a good fit. This is a great pick for the Washington Wizards.”
Bleacher Report: "He has long intrigued scouts with strong physical tools, and he finally put them all together as a junior. His production was elite (19.7 points per game), and his efficiency was the same (59.1 percent overall, 60.6 percent on two-pointers).
"He has proved a quick learner, as he logged just 130 total minutes as a freshman. He has tightened his handles to the point he can take defensive rebounds end-to-end, and he's an off-the-dribble scoring threat from the intermediate range."
CBS Sports: "There's no obvious selection here at No. 9, but Hachimura is a fine choice. He's got a big wingspan and a good jumper, and he fits as a stretch four. The fact that he's only played basketball for a few years and keeps improving is a really good sign, even if there were better talent plays here."
Jeremy Woo (Sports Illustrated): "This is an interesting pick for the Wizards, who are picking a player many teams were split on in terms of value. But there was a sense that Hachimura might be gone shortly after this, and Washington ultimately opted for the guy it liked the most here. There’s some risk involved, but he fits an area of need for Washington, and it'll hope he turns into a useful scorer and rebounder long-term at forward."
Ben Golliver (Washington Post): "Hachimura, the first Japanese-born player to be selected in the NBA draft, inspired a range of opinions from NBA scouts. Some, impressed by his physical presence, improved shooting and defensive versatility, pegged him as a top-five talent. Others, wary of his somewhat robotic movements, were more skeptical. The 6-foot-8 forward displayed tremendous growth during three years at Gonzaga, blossoming into a first-team all-American as a junior after barely playing as a freshman. If he can continue to extend his shooting range to the three-point line, Hachimura projects as a longtime starter who can play both forward positions."
Jonathan Givony (ESPN): "The Wizards don't have much depth at the power forward position, and they should be able to offer Rui Hachimura -- at 21, one of the older players to be selected in the first round -- immediate playing time, thanks to his physical tools, scoring instincts and aggressiveness."
Kirk Goldsberry (ESPN) on Twitter: Rui Hachimura is a very efficient two-point scorer, and thrives in the lost art of the midrange.
Jerry Brewer (Washington Post) on Twitter: It should be easy for fans to root for Rui Hachimura. Nice story, great kid, diverse addition, global impact. If he can play, it’ll be a fun experience.
Fran Fraschilla (ESPN) on Twitter: Have a feeling that someone will figure out that @ZagMBB forward, Rui Hachimura is a Top 6 talent. Has all of the physical ingredients and he’s just learning the game. More upside than most in this draft.
David Aldridge (The Athletic) on Twitter: Wizards loved his shooting, think he can become a true stretch four and fill a direct need.