The Los Angeles Lakers have been desperate for more size and depth in their wing positions, so they have brought Rui Hachimura into the mix, a fourth-year forward from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. Here’s three reasons why it will work…
1. The Lakers still can’t shoot threes
Cast your minds back to the opening month of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2022/23 campaign – or maybe, don’t – and you’ll remember how abysmal their perimeter shooting was.
Although there’s been a slight improvement, they still rank last in completed threes per game (10.3) and 26th in percentage (33.6).
There is a whole avenue of attack that LeBron James and co just aren’t tapping into, because they can’t, and don’t possess the necessary backup to access. With Rui Hachimura in the mix, that changes.
He’s no Stephen Curry, but he has made 40.1 per cent of his triples across the past two seasons, which makes him a pretty efficient sharp-shooter considering the state of the current Lakers setup.
Though it might not lead to a wholesale transformation, it will help free up James to focus more on his drives into the paint.
2. A little bit of everything
If the Lakers are to defy the odds and make it into the play-in tournament, having Hachimura and his skillset to sprinkle across the roster certainly doesn’t hurt.
Indeed, not only does he offer youth to the team, but also frontcourt versatility, shooting, and a steady defensive contribution. The 24-year-old is averaging 13 points per game, putting in a career-high 30 in his last matchup on the court while the Lakers fell to their rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, on the same day.
As mentioned, Hachimura can also be pretty crafty in defence, and operate as a backup power forward to lessen the load on the recuperating Anthony Davis and ageing (although you would not guess it) James.
His aggressive physique and compelling runs down past the paint will create problems for other teams, he won’t be easy to ignore at 6ft 8in, nor will he be fun to mark.
The only element of concern is that his scoring can sometimes be inconsistent, and if there’s one thing that the Lakers need, it is constant support so their talisman can thrive. In this scenario, however, the reward just about outweighs the risk.
3. Cost cutting is key
It was clear before even a single hoop had swished this season that the Lakers back office would not be making any pre-season investments, the resources were limited and they would be letting James and co fend for themselves. Grim stuff indeed.
The fact that they only possess two tradable first-round draft picks and yet plenty of expendable players, Nunn included, only further compounded things. The roster had depth, but all the wrong kind, and there was nothing exciting to draw out of their G-League affiliates either.
Bringing Hachimura in has been an altogether different transaction, as revealed in a press conference on Tuesday – one less unused player to deal with, and a very compelling attacker brought into the action.
Moves like these can make or break a financial season, and the franchise certainly needs it to go in their favour, at least before a possible plunder or reconstruction in the summer.