payitforward wrote:...with Rui Hachimura's rookie season in the books, no one here has chimed in with an overall assessment of Rui's first year in the league.
Any especially positive aspects of his play anyone wants to point out? Negative ones?
What does Rui have to better next season to demonstrate that he's a strong candidate to be a good NBA player? Do better in what sense?
What else does anyone want to point out about Rui Hachimura after his rookie season?
As with the rest of the team Rui played better once IT was shipped to the Clippers to be replaced by Shabazz. If you check the numbers, the fact that he played the vast majority of his minutes next to IT (link)
meant that his development was going to be stunted. If you look at the % numbers of his successful shots, the majority of his makes were assisted. All of his 3pt makes were off assists. Most (60%) of his dunks were. It makes absolute sense that he played best in line-ups next to Shabazz and Bonga. For 2 reasons: they both pass, and these were usually line-ups against 2nd line players. He played his best in the 2nd quarter, when teams traditionally give their starters a rest. So yes, as a rookie he was thrown in against starters and -- played like a rookie not a starter.
As for play style, interestingly aside from dunks, he shot better the further he got from the basket. His game in international play has been as a face-up player, emulating Carmelo Anthony. This shows up in the sorts of shots he feels most comfortable taking -- Melo too was known for the bad habit of long 2's. That said: with dunks mixed in, Rui hit %50 of his 2pt shots. You'll take %50 from two. Not bad, his percentages were dragged down by the team's emphasis on gunning threes no matter what. With reps I susppose they figured you will find the range. In the case of Rui this may be true: it's a cliche at this point, but scouts suggest a high FT% is a better indicator of NBA 3fg ability. That makes sense to me, the only way to improve on FT% shooting is by practice and form and mindset. Those who put in the work will improve on these skills. This is a hopeful for Rui who hit over 80% from the free throw line.
SO! What this indicates to me are a few things.
1. For now Rui is a pass-dependent player. His decision-making will be aided by playing next to players who can hit him when he is open, instead of him trying to do too much and force a bucket on his own. Before he can make his own bucket he will need to develop an inside game, footwork to free himself in traffic, and develop moves that will let him use his natural strength to bump and force the action. He has good hands, his turnover numbers are low, if he can learn to crash the lanes, run backdoor, catch and finish on the lob or alley oop, he will see an uptick in fouls against him and that 80+% at the FT line will become a weapon, and that high% at the rim will be emphasized. Until then, we should not rely on the young fella to make his own offense.
2. Three pointers should be a focus of his skills training. The team forces threes in this system so he will continue to get them. BUT if he can hit 42% from 16-22 feet (as he does) then he can hit 36% from 23 ft 6".
3. He needs weight room work and a Big Man coach. He has nimble feet and good body control, and he seems to be a physical mimic. I wish we had a Tim Duncan on our bench, or Hakeem. Or even a Ewing drop step or a Kareem skyhook. He needs a mentor on the interior. Yes he needs help in rebounding angles and boxing out and some basics that his late start in Basketball has stunted his growth. If he had a Millsapp or Horford or MGasol or as a player coach, I'd be satisfied that he had the chance of proper training.
4. He's not as bad as his numbers suggest. Nobody looks good playing next to the former Hero IT. Thomas Bryant had been building decent career numbers, and he also swirled around the toilet bowl playing next to IT.
Ultimately many of the things that interfered with Hachimura's success are fixable problems. In his own skills training and in roster construction. Yes you'd like it if he stepped into the league and seamlessly fit the structure and knew what he was doing. But still, it is a hopeful sign that his numbers improved over the year, even if some part of that improvement to do with amputation and cauterization of one Isaiah Thomas from the line-up. If minus IT plus Shabazz = better Rui, well, what happens if we sub a rejuvenated Wallstar at starter. Even better?