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Rui Hachimura returning ahead of schedule

Rui Hachimura, Wizards

Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura could be back sooner than initially anticipated.

Hachimura was supposed to miss the first three weeks of the NBA regular season due to an eye infection. However, head coach Scott Brooks said Wednesday Hachimura will play Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls, per Ava Wallace of the Washington Post.

This means Hachimura returns to the rotation about a week earlier than expected. Brooks said the second-year man out of Gonzaga will play about 20 minutes.

The Wizards were hoping the acquisition of Russell Westbrook–in exchange for franchise staple John Wall–would provide the organization with a different feel.

Westbrook was acquired for his explosiveness and productivity, but also to provide veteran leadership. “The Brodie” has had to use it early.

Russ sent a strong message to his teammates after the Wizards started the year with an 0-4 mark. Washington ranks third in pace, but just 21st in offensive rating. The Wizards are also 24th in opponent scoring average.

Can Hachimura give the team more of a boost? The 22-year-old flashed some of his offensive prowess during a rookie season in which he averaged 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds.

Hachimura has yet to develop an outside jumper, but has good technique on the low block and can also face up against slower forwards. There is plenty of room for improvement on the defensive end of the floor, however.

Washington desperately needs to gather some momentum if it hopes to figure into the playoff mix in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps Hachimura can provide a spark.