Basketball / NBA

Rui Hachimura to start in Wizards' season opener on Wednesday

Kyodo

Washington Wizards first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura will be in the starting lineup for the team’s regular-season debut against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, head coach Scott Brooks confirmed after practice Tuesday.

“To sum up my feelings, I’ve made it. I’m really looking forward to it,” Hachimura said on reaching the main stage of the world’s premier basketball league.

The 203-cm Japanese forward will make his NBA debut alongside Ish Smith, Bradley Beal, Isaac Bonga and Thomas Bryant in the first of three games on the road before the team returns to Capital One Arena next week.

Brooks hinted that Hachimura will play heavy minutes and may get his first major rookie test guarding Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis.

Hachimura started in four of the Wizards’ preseason games and averaged 10.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in over 20 minutes of playing time per game.

“In practice or games, whether it’s offense, defense or rebounds, I think showing that I can help the team is my biggest factor,” the Toyama Prefecture native said.

“I think there are difficult things, but I just want to enjoy playing in a basketball-centered environment.”