Three examples of the Washington Wizards putting development first

Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards /

Rui Hachimura the Rookie Starter

The Washington Wizards might have taken the NBA world by surprise when they took Rui Hachiomura 9th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. But ever since they made the pick, the Wizards have gone all-in on their lottery pick.

They’ve given him a nickname, Japanese Jumpman. They’ve created Japanese-specific media outlets to capitalize on Rui-mania. And they’ve put him in the starting lineup every game this season.

To a degree, that’s not surprising. Of the eight other top-ten picks that have played in the NBA this season, only Coby White and Jaxson Hayes have yet to start an NBA game. Rest up, Zion, we’ll see you out there soon.

But regardless of what the other teams are doing, Hachimura getting the starting nod was no given. The team’s last lottery pick, Otto Porter, didn’t get a single start in his rookie season. Hachimura, though, has started, and been kept out there.

Hachimura currently ranks 6th among all rookies in minutes per game. He’s averaging 28.7 per contest, trailing only Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant on the Wizards roster. Aside from a few second-half disappearances against the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers, Hachimura has been allowed to play through his mistakes. Overall, he’s been given a pretty long leash for a rookie.

And he hasn’t squandered the opportunity. Hachimura certainly makes some rookie mistakes, especially around the rim. He can be a bit over-aggressive at times, forcing shots up with the defense draped over him. But he’s also developed a killer mid-range game and has quickly become a quality scoring option.

Even as the Wizards roster gets healthy, there’s no reason to think Hachimura’s minute will dip. His spot’s safe and it’s going to be fun to watch him progress.