Basketball / NBA

Rui Hachimura earned starting spot: Wizards head coach Brooks

Kyodo

The competition for the Washington Wizards' starting spot was open when Rui Hachimura came to the NBA team's training camp, but he proved that he's a starter, head coach Scott Brooks said, answering fan questions on Facebook Live on Thursday.

"Rui's had a great year, coming in as a rookie and being consistent. We started the season in training camp and he wasn't the starter," Brooks said.

"It was open, but he performed and he fought for that spot and got the spot for his work and through his play and practice and exhibition. He's had a great year. Hopefully we can resume and he can finish strong."

Brooks said he was also impressed with the way the 22-year-old Japanese forward handled his injury and return. In February, Hachimura returned from a groin injury suffered on Dec. 16.

"Even when he got hurt and missed a couple of months, he still came back and had a couple of tough games but really bounced back. He's going to be a really, really good player for a long time. Very consistent."

Although he considers Hachimura's 3-point shot a "work in progress," Brooks is hopeful that the 27.4 percent shooter can be a "high 30s or even a low 40 percent 3-point shooter."

"There's a lot of things that we can do once we (the team) become whole. I think Rui is really going to continue to improve. He loves the game, he works hard, so his future is very exciting."

The 2019-2020 NBA season was suspended on March 11 after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

Brooks said he has been impressed with the discipline of his young team, with players finding ways to keep busy through Zoom workouts and ball-handling drills while the practice facility remains closed.

When asked about the effect of coronavirus on the draft process, Brooks credited Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard, saying "I always look back at Rui. … What a great pick that was. We're going to do fine. I'm excited to add another piece to our team, and Tommy's going to find us another good player."

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