Preview: Rookies will rule in Washington Wizards vs Memphis Grizzlies

Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura Admiral Schofield (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura Admiral Schofield (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura
Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Rui Hachimura

For Wizards fans, Rui Hachimura needs no introduction. Most—if not all—have quickly fallen in love with the rookie’s even-keeled but fearless style of play. However, this will be Memphis’ first time meeting the Japanese Jumpman, and his introduction should be a memorable one.

If Morant is leading the Rookie of the Year race, then Hachimura is not far behind. Hachimura has been solid all season, but recently, the ninth overall pick from this year’s draft seems to have found his footing.

In the last six games, Hachimura is averaging 20 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists on 48 percent shooting. Perhaps most impressive was Hachimura’s 27-point, seven-rebound performance in Washington’s upset win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Without Thomas Bryant healthy, the Wizards were undermanned against a formidable frontcourt featuring Joel Embiid and Al Horford. Hahcimura was undersized but didn’t underperform. Instead, he had his best game of the year and the Wizards got their best win of the year.

Washington will need more of that Rui Hachimura against the Grizzlies. With both Wagner and Bryant out, Hachimura will have to step in down low as a small-ball center once again. The Grizzlies might not have Embiid, but it won’t be easy dealing with Jonas Valanciunas, either. Plus, Hachimura will have to deal with another young frontcourt force that the Wizards could have taken over him.