Washington Wizards: History shows Rui Hachimura deserves All-Rookie honors

If history is any indicator, Washington Wizards rookie, Rui Hachimura, should get an All-Rookie nod.

The Washington Wizards were not a terribly impressive team this season. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some noteworthy individual performances throughout the year.

Although he was snubbed from the All-Star team, Bradley Beal finished his 2020 campaign with All-NBA numbers. His fellow teammate Rui Hachimura also wowed. What Hachimura did in his rookie season should land him on one of the NBA’s All-Rookie teams.

Hachimura didn’t waste time making an impact with the Washington Wizards. Freshly thrown into the NBA fire, Hachimura was the Wizards’ second-leading scorer in each of the team’s first two games. By game four, he had already eclipsed the 20-point mark. He scored 23 in the most quintessential Wizards game of the year, a 159-159 loss to the Houston Rockets.

Hachimura finished the season as the Wizards’ thrid-leading scorer. His 13.5 points per game trailed only Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans.

Hachimura did more than score, though. The Wizards were a team desperate for rebounding all season. By the end of the season, the Wizards ranked 28th in both defensive and team rebounding. They would have been worse if it wasn’t for Hachimura, too.

As a rookie, Hahcimura was the Wizards’ second-leading rebounder. Like his scoring-ability, his rebounding talents were on display from game one. In addition to the 14 points he poured in during his debut, Hachimura also grabbed ten boards. It was the first of three double-doubles for Hachimura during his rookie season.

Historically, Rui’s standing amongst his fellow rookies would garner an All-Rookie selection. Hachimura averaged 6.1 rebounds per game during his rookie season. The only rookie to have a higher per game rebounding average this season was Zion Williamson. Since the start of the 2000-01 season, no rookie who ranked second in rebounds has missed the All-Rookie teams.

Plus, his numbers are comparable to what we’ve seen from top rookie rebounders in the past. The following players were all the second leading rebounders in their rookie classes, and they all made an All-Rookie team:

  • 06-07: Paul Milsap (5.2 RPG, 2nd team)
  • 07-08: Luis Scola (6.4 RPG, 1st team)
  • 09-10: DeJuan Blair (6.4 RPG, 2nd team)
  • 11-12: Tristan Thompson (6.5 RPG, 2nd team)
  • 13-14: Kelly Olynyk (5.2 RPG, 2nd team)
  • 14-15: Jusef Nurkic (6.2 RPG, 2nd team)

Hachimura’s rebounding prowess should be enough to justify an All-Rookie selection, but that’s not all he has working for him. His 13.5 points per game rank sixth among rookies this season. Since the 00-01 season, the sixth-leading rookie scorer has missed the All-NBA teams just twice.

  • Salim Stoudemaire: 9.7 ppg, no All-Rookie honors
  • Allonzo Trier: 10.9 ppg, no All-Rookie honors

These two omissions have more in common with Hachimura than we might want to admit, though. Those similarities could keep Hachimura off the team.

Stoudemaire and Trier, although impressive scorers in their rookie seasons, played for terrible teams. Stoudemaire’s 05-06 Atlanta Hawks finished 26-56, and Trier’s New York Knicks finished 17-65 last season.

The Wizards finished 25-67 this season. Hardly better than the records of both of those “snubs.” We’ve seen how a losing record has affected Bradley Beal’s All-Star status, and it could very well affect his All-NBA status again this season, despite individual numbers worthy of a selection. Could the losing record also hurt Hachimura’s chances at All-Rookie?

Hopefully, not. But there are only four forward spots to be had on the All-Rookie teams, and Hachimura hasn’t been the only impressive frontcourt player. Zion Williamson, Eric Paschall, Brandon Clarke, De’Andre Hunter, P.J. Washington, and others will all be hoping to see their name on the All-Rookie teams, too.

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Hachimura isn’t perfect. His three-point shot needs work. He gets tunnel vision towards the rim. And he must improve as both an individual and team defender. But he’s a rookie; he’s far from a finished product. Considering he started playing basketball less than a decade ago, the sky seems like the limit. A ton of NBA pros seem to think so, too. Hopefully, the All-Rookie voters see what LeBron James, Bradley Beal, Caron Butler, and others see in Hachimura.

The All-Rookie teams will be announced during the NBA playoffs, which started on August 17. If Hachimura is selected, he will be the first Washington Wizards to make an All-Rookie team since Bradley Beal was a first-team selection in 2013.

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