Wizards' No. 9 pick Rui Hachimura makes NBA Draft history
Another pre-draft process has passed, and the Wizards have their man. With the No. 9 overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft, Washington selected Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura on Thursday night in Brooklyn. In Hachimura, the Wizards found a versatile big man that they believe will be able to contribute at the NBA level immediately. They also made history, making Hachimura the first Japanese-born player to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.
“You know, it means a lot for me and my family,” said Hachimura. “Like Japan basketball. All my country. It's a big thing."
In their preparation for this year’s draft, Washington was just as impressed with Hachimura the person as they were with the player. The Toyama, Japan native can score from all levels (he scored 19.1 points per game as a junior at Gonzaga) and projects to be an effective defender and rebounder with his frame.
“He has the talent, and with that work ethic, we feel that we can have a really good two-way player,” said head coach Scott Brooks. “He's going to help the program. He's going to come in and be a guy that is coachable. I talked to [his] coach earlier [and he said] you're never going to have a problem with him. He has a lot of respect for the game and how he prepares. He's experienced a lot.”
That experience should prove to be a good starting point for Hachimura, who will focus on improving his efficiency from 3-point range and becoming a more versatile defender at the next level. Still, his scoring touch and elite physical profile will help him make an impact right away.
“He’s ready to play next year,” said Wizards Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Tommy Sheppard. “I don’t think there is going to be remedial teaching that is going to have to happen for him. I think he can hit the court, but I think the expectations we are going to manage for him. I think he’ll be able to contribute right away.”
Hachimura’s 19.7 points (6.5 rebounds) last season led Gonzaga to the Elite Eight, and he also posted his most efficient year as a scorer (59.1% FG) in his final year as a bulldog. Now, he’ll begin the process of assimilating to the NBA game and his new teammates in Washington. He’ll add depth right away as the Wizards look to fill out their roster this offseason, and has the potential to factor into the rotation significantly come next fall.
First will come offseason mini-camps and an important trip to Summer League in July. For now, Hachimura is soaking in a big moment for him, his family, and his country.
“It’s crazy. Unreal. It means a lot for me, my family, my whole country,” said Hachimura on ESPN following the selection. “I’m so thankful. I just want to thank everybody.”