Rui Hachimura insists that shooting 3-pointers isn’t his game.
But if it truly isn’t, he’s making secondary parts of his play look elementary.
In the Wizards’ 116-113 win over the Pistons on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, he scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field. He went 3-of-3 from deep, though, as he continued his incredible streak from beyond the arc in the win.
“He’s confident in his shot, he works on it, his teammates are confident, they’ll look to find him,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “He’s shot-ready, he spaces correctly. When you do those two things, the ball finds you. I’d like you to continue to shoot it. It’s a great sign for us, but also to see his maturity in the game and see that he’s adding another layer.”
That extra layer of his game has been incredibly prevalent over the last month, as he’s put on a 3-point clinic from beyond the arc.
Since Feb. 1 (11 games ago), he’s now 17-of-25 (68%) from 3-point territory. In his last eight games, he’s 15-of-20 (75%) from deep too. He’s been on a tear of late and it’s helped the Wizards’ 3-point shooting improve rapidly as a team.
“I’m just confident shooting,” Hachimura said. “I just like to shoot like practice. That’s what I do. In the practice I shoot, I do game-like, game shots. That’s why I’ve been doing it for this whole season.”
Since the team dealt away a handful of players at the trade deadline, and lost Bradley Beal for the season with a wrist injury, they’ve needed a few of their younger players to step into bigger roles. And while the quantity hasn’t been overwhelming for Hachimura — he’s shot no more than four 3-pointers in a game all season — the quality certainly is.
“It changes a lot of things,” Unseld said. “I think it’s an added dimension that most teams defensively, when they’re guarding him, they’re not accustomed to that. Right now, it’s new. I think if he continues, obviously I don’t think he’ll continue to shoot at that rate, but if you’re a high 30s, low 40s, that’s a really good 3-point shooter.”
Both Unseld and Hachimura commented that a key part to his recent success is that the 3-pointers aren’t shots he has to create off the dribble or work to find himself. They’re shots that come, relatively, easily.
“We’re sharing the ball right now,” Hachimura said. ”We’re in a good pace and we always have everybody touching the ball and sharing the ball. There’s good ball movement. It makes the shooter easier to (get) an open shot.”
Hachimura added that his next step is to improve in the mid-range game, as that’s what he feels is the best part of his skillset.
While that may be, as long as he keeps shooting like this, the Wizards certainly wouldn’t hate a few more 3-pointers from him either.
“The best part about it is that they’re catch-and-shoot,” Unseld said. “They’re open looks, once again when he’s spaced correctly, the ball finds him. It’s in-rhythm, he’s not trying to shoot it off the bounce, he’s not trying to do too much in that regard. It’s the right types of threes. I would continue to urge him to keep shooting.”