The Los Angeles Lakers have been desperate for more size and depth at their wing positions, so they traded Rui Hachimura, a fourth-year forward from the Washington Wizards, in exchange for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. Here are three reasons why it will work…
1. The Lakers still can’t shoot 3-pointers
Think back to the first month of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2022/23 campaign – or maybe not – and you’ll remember how abysmal his shooting from the perimeter was.
Although there has been a slight improvement, they still rank last in 3-point completions per game (10.3) and 26th in percentage (33.6).
There’s a whole avenue of attack that LeBron James and company are simply not taking advantage of, because they can’t and don’t have the backing to access it. With Rui Hachimura in the mix, that changes.
It’s not Stephen Curry, but he has he made 40.1 percent of his 3-pointers over the past two seasons, making him a pretty efficient shooter considering the current state of the Lakers’ setup.
Although it may not lead to a total transformation, it will help free James to focus more on his impulses towards painting.
2. A little bit of everything
If the Lakers want to defy the odds and make it to the play-in tournament, having Hachimura and his sprinkling skill set on the roster certainly doesn’t hurt.
In fact, he not only offers youth to the team, but also versatility in front, shooting and a constant defensive contribution. The 24-year-old is averaging 13 points per game, notching a career-high 30 in their last meeting on the court, while the Lakers lost to their rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, on the same day.
As mentioned, Hachimura can also be quite astute on defense, operating as a backup power forward to lessen the burden on the recovering Anthony Davis and aging (although you wouldn’t guess) James.
His aggressive physique and compelling runs beyond the paint will create problems for other teams, he won’t be easy to ignore at 6-foot-8, nor will he be fun to guard.
The only element of concern is that his scoring can be inconsistent at times, and if there’s one thing the Lakers need, it’s constant support so their talisman can thrive. In this scenario, however, the reward almost outweighs the risk.
3. Cost reduction is key
It was clear even before a single hoop had whistled this season that the Lakers’ front office would not make any preseason investments, resources were limited, and they would leave James and his teammates to fend for themselves. Shady stuff indeed.
The fact that they only possess two tradeable first-round draft picks and yet have plenty of expendable players, including Nunn, only complicates matters further. The roster had depth, but the wrong kind, and there was nothing exciting to take away from its G-League affiliates, either.
Bringing in Hachimura has been an entirely 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 its way, at least before a possible sack or rebuild in the summer.