Former NBA player-turned-analyst Chauncey Billups compared Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura to Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers. Head coach Doc Rivers quickly shut down the comparison, however, asking for analysts to let Hachimura come into his own.
Rivers believes that it’s too early to compare Hachimura — the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft — to Kawhi or to any other player.
“I wouldn’t want that. That’s too early. Let him be him…But everything I hear about him, forget the basketball part, is that he’s supposed to be a great kid. And that helps,” Rivers said, Per Fred Katz of The Athletic.
So far, Hachimura is averaging 12.4 points per game (eighth among rookies), 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has inserted him into the Wizards’ starting five, which signifies that he has supreme confidence in the first-year player.
Hachimura started his rookie campaign strong. He dropped a double-double in his first game and followed it up with several efficient performances. But as he played more games, his statistics dipped and it became apparent that Hachimura is still a young rookie with plenty of lessons to learn.
In an interview with Candace Bucker of the Washington Post, guard Isaiah Thomas is not surprised by this. He hopes, however, that Hachimura will forget about his bad games and continue working to improve.
“He’s a rookie. It’s not surprising,” Isaiah Thomas said about Hachimura. “One thing I know, the greatest players, the best players out there, they have the shortest memory whether good or bad. When we wake up tomorrow, hopefully he forgets about it, gets to work in practice and we go from there.”
Indeed, it’s too early to compare. Hachimura is still learning how to play ball at the professional level. Yet, there’s not a single soul who’s doubting his capabilities to be a great player.