Not everyone was a huge fan of who the Washington Wizards took with the ninth pick in the NBA Draft, but Rui Hachimura is getting love from the legends, anyways.
Generally, the Washington Wizards were not praised for their first-round selection in the 2019 NBA Draft. In fact, most people – fans and media alike – seemed to be confused and critical of the pick. Even if the home fans seem to be warming up to Rui Hachimura after his opening press conference, the national narrative seems to be that the Washington Wizards may have messed up this lottery pick. Again.
Jeremy Woo of SI.com gave the pick a B-, and that’s one of the better grades out there. Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer gave it a D. Ricky O’Donnell gave the Wizards pick a D in his instant grades for SB Nation, while fellow SB Nation writer Matt Ellentuck named the Wizards as one of draft night’s losers.
One way or another, we’ll revisit those scathing reviews. Either as proof of the Wizards’ missteps or to laugh at Hachimura’s haters.
But not everyone is down on the pick. Even as most are criticizing the Wizards, a couple of big names have nothing but praise for the newest member of the team. Fellow countryman and Japan’s biggest sports star Ichiro Suzuki had this to say about Hachimura.
While it may not be the biggest or best endorsement of his skill, it goes to show you just how big of a deal this guy is in Japan right now. After signing with Jordan, some have dubbed him “The Japanese Jumpman.”
But Japanese legends aren’t the only ones with high praise for Hachimura. The darling of the NBA, Stephen Curry, thinks Hachimura can be something special at the next level.
“I know he’s got good size, obviously. He seems to have a high basketball IQ, good touch around the rim too. I’m sure as he gets into the NBA his game will expand. I think he fits into the direction the NBA is going right now; being able to score and put pressure on the defense no matter what the situation is.”
That’s high praise from one of the men responsible for taking the NBA in the aforementioned new direction. I can’t totally speak for Curry’s credentials as a talent evaluator, but it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two.
Hachimura still has a long way to go before this type of love actually means anything, but it bodes well for a fan base looking to hop on the Hachimura bandwagon. As Japan’s first-ever NBA lottery pick, having the country’s biggest sports star and one of the NBA’s best and most popular players is probably a good thing. Just saying.