The NBA may be on hiatus but the league’s players are still doing what they can to improve. Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura said he’s been watching film of the season to pinpoint areas of concern and spots where he improved over the course of his first season in the league.
“I improved a lot of things,” Hachimura said (via NBA.com). “Especially ball-handling and spacing. I remember I used to say, ‘the spacing is so different.’ At the beginning of the season, I felt a little bit awkward and it felt different, but now I’m used to it and really more comfortable…playing with these guys, my teammates, is really fun. We have more chemistry now.”
Hachimura may have taken bigger steps forward if he didn’t injure his groin earlier in the season. The ailment forced him to miss 23 games, though he used the time off the court as an opportunity to grow as a player, learning from teammates, watching film, and working with Washington’s coaches to further enhance his game.
Hachimura Pre Vs Post Injury During 2019/20
|3PT FG %||20.8||40.0|
Hachimura spent more time in the frontcourt after returning from his injury. Part of that was design; Part of that was due to the other injuries to the team’s front court. Thomas Bryant and Mo Wagner were among the Wizards to miss time with various ailments this past winter.
Learning on the Job in Washington
The environment in Washington was a positive one, one that fostered growth. Hachimura and the team’s younger players were able to learn from the veterans on the squad. Hachimura was recently asked which player has been the best mentor to him and the rookie said one player went above and beyond.
“There’s a lot, but obviously Brad (Beal) is a guy I’m always looking at,” Hachimura said. “I talk to him about basketball and off the court, everything. He’s a great leader of the team. I think it’s good to see, even at practice, I can watch him and how hard he works…He’s not much of a talking guy. He shows. Whatever he’s doing, I can see…He’s the guy I always look at.”
Beal signed an extension prior to the 2019/20 season in part because he wanted to be a leader.
“Ultimately, I felt staying, the positives outweighed leaving,” Beal said recently. “The reason being is because I had more control here. I have an organization who basically gave me the keys. We’re gonna build around you, we’re gonna get guys around. If I go anywhere else, granted, it may be a good team, but I would be a piece. Who knows if my role would be the same? My role here, I love what it is.”
While Beal provided Hachimura with a star to lean on, someone to help him navigate the rapid waters of being a rookie in the league, it was another star who inspires the 22-year-old’s game.
“I watched a lot of Carmelo Anthony,” Hachimura said of who was his first inspiration upon getting into basketball.
“He was my guy when I started playing basketball. I watched his footsteps and his pull-up shot. That why I think I have a pull-up now, because I watched him a lot. He’s obviously a big guy, 6’8” and a power forward or small forward. I watched him a lot when I was a kid…He was one of the (hardest players to guard all season).”
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