One common name being mentioned with the Utah Jazz at the 23rd pick for this year’s NBA Draft is Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, the 6’8 combo forward who had a breakout junior year for the oft top ranked Bulldogs team. Alongside Brandon Clarke, Hachimura made up half of one of the most dynamic front courts in college basketball last year.
Hachimura brings ideal size for his position to the NBA, standing 6’8 with a 235 lbs frame, and he makes good use of it in the midrange. The junior led Gonzaga last year in scoring at a hair under 20 points per game, and shot an outstanding 60% from the floor, and 40% from the three point line, while throwing in 6.5 rebounds per contest.
Hachimura’s offensive game is build around his tremendous mid-range game, where he easily rises over smaller defenders with his smooth jump shot, or driving around bigger defenders using his speed. It’s not hard to imagine Hachimura’s mid-range game translating immediately to the NBA early in his career. His 40% three point average appears promising on first look, but it doesn’t match his career 31% average, and his further hurt by the fact that he averaged only one three point attempt per game. It’s unlikely he’ll be comfortable stretching his game out to the three point line early in his career, if ever.
Beyond his mid-range shooting ability, Hachimura’s offensive game is limited due to his lack of feel for the game. Despite playing on a team loaded with future NBA players, Hachimura averaged just 1.5 assists this season, and fewer than one assist for his career. He regularly makes the wrong play, and isn’t a threat as a playmaker due to his poor passing.
Defensively, Hachimura’s frame and athleticism would give the impression that he’s a versatile defensive player, but again his lack of feel for the game is revealed in his poor defense in switching situations. With the modern NBA being so screen heavy, it appears likely that Hachimura will struggle to hold his own defensively. His on ball defense should be plenty capable, but he will need to put on work on that end.
Hachimura’s is an intriguing prospect with NBA size, and a nice scoring touch, but may lack enough feel and skill overall to be an immediate contributor in the NBA. A good comparison for Hachimura may be modern day Jabari Parker, who can carry an offensive load for stretches, but can’t be counted on to be a star consistently.