Wizards

Rui Hachimura drawing big praise from veteran teammates after hot start

Wizards

WASHINGTON -- Three games into his NBA career, Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura is quietly making a name for himself. His three games weren't on national television and he hasn't produced the viral social media moments Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett already have. But with three double-digit scoring efforts, his numbers are quite impressive so far.

Through three games, Hachimura is averaging 16.3 points and 7.7 rebounds. Though he has yet to make a three on eight attempts, he is shooting a respectable 46.9 percent from the field.

But beyond the numbers, the way he has approached the game this early in his career has stood out to some of his veteran teammates.

"He's very talented. He's going to be special in this league. I think he has the potential to be a star," guard Isaiah Thomas said. "I always tell him he reminds me of Kawhi Leonard when he first came into the league; big body, big hands, midrange game, he knows the game really well."

"There's always going to be a guy who really can't guard him guarding him," forward C.J. Miles said. "If you put a wing on him, they're too small. If you put a big on him, they're too slow."

"He's going to be a great player," foward Troy Brown Jr. said. "There's nothing on the floor he can't do, so he has a lot of stuff he can go to as counters."

For both Thomas and Miles, who have a combined 24 NBA seasons between them, Hachimura's pace has stood out the most. While many players need experience before the game slows down, he has already adjusted well to the NBA, which is much faster than what he saw in college.

 

"He's just poised. You don't really see that from rookies. He goes at his own pace. Usually, rookies they're going 100 miles per hour," Thomas said.

"He's got a real good patience to him. You can't speed him up," Miles said.

Head coach Scott Brooks was a bit less effusive in his praise. Though he did say Hachimura "has been great," he qualified all of his compliments with the measured viewpoint of a coach.

Brooks also referenced a stat thrown out there by NBC Sports Washington after Hachimura's first two games, how Hachimura was just the ninth rookie in the last 20 years to post 30-plus points and 15-plus rebounds combined in his first two games.

"How far is he behind [Michael] Jordan?" Brooks quipped.

It is Brooks' job to demand more from his players. He can only compliment one of his pupils so much.

But through three games, it seems clear Hachimura is ahead of the curve for an NBA rookie.

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