Rui Hachimura had a game to forget Sunday against the Nets.
He scored nine points on 2-of-9 shooting and took just two shots in the first half of the Wizards' second straight loss in NBA bubble play. It was a polar-opposite performance compared to his 21-point, eight-rebound outing against the Suns Friday, but several NBA vets spoke highly of him on Twitter after the game, including his teammate Bradley Beal.
Jared Dudley got the ball rolling by bringing up the infamous Kawhi Leonard comparison linked to Hachimura on draft night last June.
Out of all the NBA rookies the most slept on is Rui Hachimura... He’s really a 3 playing at the 4 position.. Has a lot of Kawhi in his game! Super skilled, tough, and aggressive! Wizards found themselves a young Star in the future— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) August 2, 2020
"[Hachimura] has a lot of Kawhi in his game!" Dudley wrote. "Super skilled, tough, and aggressive! Wizards found themselves a young star in the future."
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Beal quickly endorsed Dudley's claims, while former Wizards Isaiah Thomas and Caron Butler piled on the Hachimura love.
FACTS https://t.co/eea9pC8Xtm— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) August 2, 2020
I’ve been saying that since the start of season. A lot of young kawhi.— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) August 2, 2020
Watching him at @ZagMBB calling his games. I really just started playing the game along with language barrier. He literally has no ceilings on what he could be at this level! @rui_8mura #Wizards— Caron Butler (@realtuffjuice) August 2, 2020
As promising a young player as Hachimura is, it's incredibly hard to say his name in the same sentence as Kawhi Leonard. I mean, we're talking about a two-time Finals MVP and one of the best players in the world. Leonard was also a raw, defense-first wing where Hachimura came out of college as a mid-range scorer who played primarily as a big in college.
But still, Beal, Dudley, Thomas and Butler aren't saying Hachimura is going to be Leonard, rather he has some of Leonard in his game today. His blend of size and skill give should give the Wizards a ton of two-way versatility as he continues to polish off his game, though I must disagree with those who think Hachimura should play the three. I'd rather see Hachimura play up a position to center than down one to small forward, especially as the league drifts further toward small ball.
Whether he can be a version of Leonard or not remains to be seen, though he'll have plenty of time to iron out some more rookie growing pains over the next six games and Washington's franchise player certainly believes in him. Sometimes, that's all a player needs.
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