WASHINGTON -- The most accurate 3-point shooting among Wizards regulars this season has come from an unexpected place.
The highest percentage was not from Davis Bertans or Bradley Beal, nor has it been from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Thomas Bryant or Corey Kispert, guys with considerable track records as 3-point threats. No, it has been from Rui Hachimura, who through a growing sample size of 16 games is shooting 44.1% from three.
The volume remains relatively low, at 2.1 attempts per game, but the trajectory is encouraging. He shot 28.7% as a rookie and 32.8% last season.
One of the questions surrounding Hachimura when he entered the NBA as the ninth overall pick in 2019 was outside shooting. It has been a major area of emphasis for him in his offseason workouts.
Now, he's seeing positive results.
"I've been working on this since I got here," Hachimura said. "I think it's been helping me have more confidence shooting threes. For the team, our concept is we shoot, we attack the paint and then we kick it out to 3-point shooters... There are a couple of guys that can make plays, so it's easier for me to knock down open threes."
Hachimura, 24, is technically shooting a career-low field goal percentage overall, at 45.1%, but his 3-point clip has led to the best effective field goal % of his career (51.8). Effective field goal percentage threes more than twos.
Efficiency is crucial in today's NBA and will help Hachimura stand out in the Wizards' rotation. Making threes could also open up other parts of his game.
"It's of course good to have a 3-point shot. It's easier for me to drive and attack the rim," he said.
Hachimura was never much of a 3-point shooter in college during his three years at Gonzaga. Though he shot 41.7% his junior year before leaving for the NBA, it was on only one attempt per game. He made only 24 threes in 102 career games in college.
Corey Kispert was his teammate then at Gonzaga and now plays with him once again for the Wizards. He has seen a ton of growth from Hachimura as an outside shooter.
"It's been great. I remember the days in college where guys would sit at the free-throw line and guard him," Kispert said. "It was a little bit of respect for how good he was driving the ball, but now he's a legitimate threat from outside and he's knocking down shots consistently. It just adds a whole nother element to his game and just unlocks what he can be."
A key component of Hachimura's advancement as a 3-point shooter has been the increase in arc on his release. From early on during his time with the Wizards, it has been a teaching point from the team's player development staff.
Hachimura now shoots through a higher plane towards the basket. Kispert is known as a shooter and explained why having arc is important.
"He's shooting a really soft basketball and the arc helps with that. It's a ton of backspin, so if it catches the inside of the rim it's going to trick in," Kispert said.
The more Hachimura shoots a high percentage from three, the more a natural question will be asked: should he take more attempts? While he shoots the best clip in the Wizards' rotation, he is sixth in attempts per game.
Hachimura is growing more and more confident in his shot, but also doesn't want to force anything.
"Not necessarily. That's not my game, it's just a part of it. It's not my strength," he said.
In addition to someday increasing his volume as a shooter, Hachimura has more steps to take in the types of threes he attempts. All of the threes he's made this season so far have been on catch-and-shoot plays. To go to the next level, he could incorporate more pull-up threes off the bounce.
The good news is he's moving in the right direction and it should only make him more effective as an offensive player, already with the ability to score in the midrange and around the rim.