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What we've learned about Wizards 2019 first-round pick Rui Hachimura so far

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This Saturday, exactly one year since the 2019 NBA Draft, is Rui Hachimura Day on NBC Sports Washington. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., we are playing Hachimura's best NBA games so far, as well as programming related to him being drafted by the Wizards.

The full TV schedule can be found here. But in the spirit of the day, here are some things we have learned about Hachimura to this point during his brief career...

He wasn't a reach

The mock drafts aren't always right. And in Hachimura's case, the pre-draft expectations in the public led to a lot of fans arguing the Wizards picked him too high. Some wanted Cam Reddish, others thought he would be taken later in the lottery or closer to 20.

But we have seen enough already to know the Wizards did not reach in picking Hachimura. They at the very least seem to have found a good player who was overlooked, possibly due to the fact he wasn't a one-and-done 19-year-old. Whether he will ultimately become a star, we will see. But he was not a reach.

He is consistent

Perhaps the most surprising development regarding Hachimura so far is his consistency. It is just not often you see a Wizards rookie slide right in and score night in and night out as he has. Hachimura, who averages 13.4 points, has reached double figures in 30 games this season. Since 2004, only John Wall (60) and Bradley Beal (39) did that more often as rookies in a Wizards uniform. 

 

One thing Hachimura could be more consistent with, however, is finishing games. He only averages 1.9 points on 32.7 percent shooting in the fourth quarter.

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He doesn't have a defined position

Hachimura is sort of a cross between a small forward and a power forward. What he will ultimately be is a question, and so is whether that matters at all. The NBA is all about positionless lineups now and technically Hachimura fits perfectly into that mold.

But it will matter when the Wizards make roster decisions to complement him and others on the team. They need some help at forward and will have to consider what types of players could play alongside Hachimura. Do they need a shooter at the three so he can play the four? What about a rim protector and rebounder at the four so he can play the three? Until Hachimura rounds out his game on both ends of the floor, these are worthy questions.

Outside shooting is coming along

One weakness for Hachimura coming out of college was his three-point shooting. He didn't shoot threes in volume at Gonzaga. So far in the pros, it remains a work in progress, though he has shown some positive signs.

Hachimura is shooting only 27.4 percent from three on 1.8 attempts per game. But he does have four games where he's hit multiple threes, including a game against the Rockets where he made three. Hachimura never made three in a game in college. If he can keep expanding his range, he will have more options offensively and could be more effective off the dribble.

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Defense needs some work

Like most rookies, and most Wizards players for that matter, Hachimura struggles on defense. Part of it is simple inexperience. But also defensively is where a more defined role could help. He is smaller than many power forwards and not as quick and fast as many threes. 

His defense could get better over time as he learns the tricks of the trade and as his body matures. But the numbers suggest he has been a weak link on a team characterized for much of this season for its bad defense. Hachimura has the worst defensive rating on the team, according to NBA.com, at 117.8. He will get better, but he will need to make more than a marginal improvement if those Kawhi Leonard comparisons are going to stick long-term.

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