With the ninth pick in the NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards took the first Gonzaga forward off the board, taking Rui Hachimura. The Wizards set their sights on the Japanese standout to provide a versatile option for their frontcourt.
Hachimura improved his production every year at Gonzaga, going from just 2.6 points per game his freshman year to 19.7 per game last year. He developed his offensive arsenal to become a go-to scoring option that is just as capable of punishing a team on the inside as the outside. In his junior campaign, Rui converted on nearly 60 percent of his attempts from the field, over 40 percent of his threes, and scored in double figures in all but two games.
Hachimura now also has the honor of being the first Japanese player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. In any interview with the The Japan Times, sports economist Mark Nagel shared his thoughts on the type of impact Rui could have in the NBA:
“You’re going to see more and more kids saying, ‘I want to follow the NBA. I want to follow Hachimura. I want to play basketball.’ And I think it’ll create a nice cycle for Japan, maybe not exactly the same way as it happened in China, because China was already a basketball hotbed before Yao Ming was in the NBA,” Nagel said. “That incentivized and hyper-attuned the whole country to what’s going on in the NBA.”