Los Angeles – Washington Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said Thursday that Japanese-born forward Rui Hachimura went beyond his expectations in his first season with the NBA team.
"I had pretty high expectations of Rui because I'm real familiar with the player, and the character of the kid and the competitiveness of the kid," Sheppard said in a video posted on the team's Twitter account.
"He did exceed them as a rookie to come in and get the starting job from Day 1, and then he produced the way he was producing," he said.
Hachimura, the first player from Japan to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft, started in 41 games for the Wizards until the season was suspended on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 22-year-old averaged 13.4 points and six rebounds per game in his debut season. But Sheppard said he was impressed most by how Hachimura returned from a groin injury in February after missing seven weeks of games.
"The injury was a setback. I think the most impressive thing about him was coming back from injury, how quick he was able to get back to the level he was at," Sheppard said. "We are really excited about his future."
Sheppard added that he wants to see Hachimura and his other players become more "versatile," able to guard multiple positions and "sufficient on the floor at different positions at different times of the game."
The NBA suspended its season after a player tested positive for COVID-19. The regular season was originally scheduled to last until April 15, with the playoffs set to begin on April 18.
On Monday, Commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview on the NBA's Twitter account that he does not expect any decision to be made on the season this month.