While he may not be a household name in the United States, Rui Hachimura has been a star on the international level for some time, especially in his home country of Japan. Scouts began to take note as far back as the 2014 U17 World Cup, when he played for the Japanese national team. He led all scorers in that tournament with an average of 22.6 points per game, besting some current NBA stars, such as Jamal Murray and Jayson Tatum.
Hachimura made significant strides in each of his three seasons with the Zags. When arriving at Gonzaga in 2016, he needed time to adjust. Among other things, he missed considerable practice time so that he could learn English. However, by the end of last season, he was playing significant minutes, and was considered to be a potential first-round pick. This past season, he set career highs across the board, averaging 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.7 steals and blocks combined per game, with excellent shooting splits (.591/.417/.739). As a result, he was named a first-team Consensus All-American.
Hachimura is one of the more well-rounded offensive prospects in this draft, and his potential to create mismatches at the next level is intriguing. Though he mainly played as a post player and cutter at Gonzaga, he displayed the tools and skills necessary to be used in a number of other ways. The junior is long, strong and sturdy, with solid athleticism. He has proven to be very capable in the paint and in transition, and flashed potential to score from deep, create off the bounce, and make shots on the move.
Several things could prevent Hachimura from being a lottery selection in this draft: he has much room to improve as a defender, his age is not ideal, and his perimeter offensive skills are not polished. By all accounts, he has a great work ethic, and given the strides that he has made at Gonzaga, and that he is relatively young in his development, there are reasons to be optimistic about his upside. In the end, I expect him to be drafted somewhere between the 10th and 20th selections, and he could end up outperforming a number of those who are selected before him based on their perceived potential.
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- Great combination of size, strength, length, and athleticism
- Highly efficient scorer, with inside-outside potential; averaged 1.15 points per possession (PPP) this season, ranking at the 97th percentile
- Can power through contact, catch and finish above the rim, and finish effectively with either hand; on half-court shots, not including post-ups, ranked at the 84th percentile for PPP around the basket this season
- Able to turn with either shoulder, and has a diverse post-up game, including a sweet fade-away jumper; ranked at the 90th percentile for PPP in the post this season
- Deadly on jumpers within 17 feet; ranked at the 96th percentile for PPP in that category this season
- Can shoot on the move and is improving from deep; ranked at the 87th percentile for PPP on jumpers off the dribble
- Runs the floor well and is an excellent finisher on the break; ranked at the 89th percentile for PPP in transition this season
- Quick first step allows him to exploit mismatches; when driving to the basket this season from spot-up position, he ranked at the 95th percentile for PPP
- Active rebounder – quick off the floor, secures the ball with strong hands, snags boards outside of his area, and efficient on put-backs, ranking at the 83rd percentile for PPP
- Draws fouls at a very high rate (19.8 percent of his possessions), and makes a solid percentage from the free-throw line (74.6 percent for his career)
- Protects the basketball; turned the ball over on just 10.5 percent of his possessions this season
- Has the length and strength to effectively defend in the post; ranked no worse than the 60th percentile for PPP allowed over the last two seasons
- Can cover a lot of ground defensively, and is effective on closeouts; ranked no worse than the 80th percentile for PPP allowed as a spot-up defender over the last two seasons
- Deep shot still a work in progress, and mechanics are not yet consistent – took just 76 three-point attempts over his three-career at Gonzaga, making 31.6 percent
- Not the most dynamic ball handler, and can struggle to create space against better perimeter defenders
- Lacks great vision, and not an overly creative passer; averaged just 1.5 assists per game, with an assist-turnover ratio of .82
- Lacks elite lateral quickness, and can struggle when defending smaller players on the perimeter
- Lacks defensive instincts and awareness as a team defender; tends to ball watch and often slow to rotate and switch
- Struggles mightily to defend the pick and roll (handlers and screeners); over the past two seasons in terms of PPP allowed, ranked no better than the 44th percentile vs. handlers, and ranked no better than the 10th percentile vs. screeners
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology and RealGM.com, and occasionally from Hoop-Math.com and Sports-Reference.com. The photo was courtesy of Gonzaga Athletics. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.