This article was posted on the website JAPAN Forward on May 9.

Wizards Coach Scott Brooks: Rui Hachimura ‘Had a Great Year’ as a Rookie

By Ed Odeven

Rui Hachimura and the Washington Wizards haven’t played a game since a 122-115 victory over the New York Knicks on March 10.

The NBA shutdown began the next day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has had a lot of time to think about individual players’ performances and the team’s 64 games.

In a rebuilding season, Washington (24-40) is focused on laying its foundation for the future, with Hachimura a big part of those plans.

Whether the Wizards will be able to play 18 more games to complete a normal season’s schedule — or a scaled-down version — remains to be seen. That said, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and league officials still hope to be able to resume play in the coming weeks and crown a playoff champion. In and of itself, the logistics of getting practices up and running presents several obstacles for teams due to the coronavirus and physical distancing protocols. (Individual workouts are the first step.)

The Wizards, ninth in the Eastern Conference, wouldn’t qualify for the playoffs based on current results. But the 22-year-old Hachimura, a rookie, has demonstrated to Wizards management, including general manager Tommy Sheppard, that he has a bright future in the NBA.

“Rui had a great year,” Brooks said on a recent video conference call with Wizards radio play-by-play broadcaster Dave Johnson. “I mean, coming in as a rookie and being as consistent as he’s been.”

“We started the season in training camp and he wasn’t the starter [at power forward]. It was open…but he performed, and he fought for that spot, and he got that spot with his work and his play in practice and exhibition [games]. And he’s had a great year,” he continued.

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