Wizards

Wizards

The Washington Wizards have invested heavily in rookie forward Rui Hachimura, selecting the Gonzaga product with the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft.

He’s expected to play a major role in shaping the team’s new direction under general manager Tommy Sheppard, and the Wizards executive is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to showing support for his prized 21-year-old.

Sheppard is in Shanghai for the group stage of the FIBA World Cup to watch Hachimura and Team Japan take on a tough Group E, a field that includes the Czech Republic, Turkey and the United States. It’s an unusual move, one that certainly isn’t expected out of someone running the entire basketball operations for an NBA team.

But Sheppard wants to reset the Wizards’ culture and promote a hard-working mentality. Flying halfway around the world to watch a rookie who’s spent his offseason training to compete on the global stage is certainly evidence of that.

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