What Rui Hachimura would bring to the Portland Trail Blazers’ offense
In anticipation of freeing up cap space to try and re-sign Kyle Kuzma, the Washington Wizards have made 24-year-old forward Rui Hachimura available, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Hachimura is of immediate interest to the Portland Trail Blazers, who desperately need bench scoring. Indeed, according to the report, Hachimura “has drawn interest from several Western Conference teams in need of scoring.”
Portland general manager Joe Cronin has presumably made a call to D.C. to gauge what the Wizards are looking for in a return package. But if the Blazers do land Rui, how exactly would he help their struggling bench unit?
Rui Hachimura would give the Portland Trail Blazers a throwback game with a hint of evolution
Hachimura has an old-school offensive game that wouldn’t feel out of place in the 1990s. His size allows him to operate in the post and play bully ball to get to his spots in the mid-range. He does most of his damage there on face-ups and fadeaways.
But his 3-point shooting percentage vaulted dramatically out of nowhere last season, which expanded his offensive game.
After shooting 28.7 percent and 32.8 percent from deep his first two seasons, respectively, Hachimura became one of the NBA’s best 3-point shooters statistically, connecting on almost 45 percent of his 2.9 attempts per game.
This is where the Hachimura Condundrum lies. Was last season’s 3-point stroke for real, or was it a one-season jump?
Through 29 games this year, it appears to be the latter.
In 24.1 minutes a night this season, exclusively off the bench for the first time in his career, Hachimura is averaging a solid 12.4 points per game. However, his offensive profile has significantly regressed back inside the arc.
On the exact same number of attempts as last year, Rui is shooting 32 percent from three, right near his averages during his first two seasons in the league.
Both his shot attempts and production from three have dropped. Meanwhile, his percentage of shot attempts and scoring from two have increased, along with the percentage of points he gets from mid-range jumpers.
And when he does shoot threes, they’re all of the spot-up variety. Literally 100 percent of the threes he’s made this year have come off an assist.
Would Hachimura be an upgrade to the Blazers’ bench? Of course. The second he arrives in Portland, he would lead the second unit in scoring. But his game comes with caveats.
Nassir Little is shooting 38.8 percent from three this year, which leads all Blazers’ bench players; but he’s only played 23 games and his career high for a season is 35 percent. Shaedon Sharpe is the only other consistent bench player shooting better than 34 percent from deep. (Unless you count Gary Payton II’s 66.7 percent, which is highly, highly, highly unlikely to continue).
Basically, Portland’s bench does not contain a bevy of floor spacers, and Hachimura isn’t one either. He’s also played a total of 176 games across three-and-a-half seasons – not a high number.
The former Gonzaga star would immediately become one of the Blazers’ best scorers and the best option to lead the second unit, but head coach Chauncey Billups would still need to stagger his lineups to keep a floor-spacer on the court at all times.
If Cronin can find the right deal, Hachimura’s offense is worth acquiring. But he wouldn’t be a seamless fit.