Washington – A day after being knocked out of the NBA playoffs, Rui Hachimura reflected on the progress he has made, saying Thursday the role he was given in his first postseason demonstrates the trust he earned from his team.
In a video posted on the Washington Wizards’ official Japanese Twitter account, the 23-year-old said despite his team’s season being ended by the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, he gained valuable experience in the process.
“The fact that I got that much court time in the playoffs means the team trusts me, and I feel like I delivered results,” Hachimura said.
“It was a great experience for me. It was a big step in my basketball career.”
After a slow start to the season for the Wizards — with the team falling to a 6-17 mark in mid-February — they were able to right the ship to finish the shortened slate with a 34-38 record that was enough to reach the play-in tournament.
After qualifying for the No. 8 seed through the play-in tournament, however, the Wizards’ lost their first-round series against the 76ers 4-1.
“It’s disappointing that we lost (to Philadelphia) but when you look at the entire season, we started on a cliff’s edge and then pushed into the playoffs, so that shows we have something here worth fighting for. That was one good thing.”
Hachimura averaged 34.6 minutes of playing time over five games, including a playoff-high 42 minutes in Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia. He averaged 14.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 three-pointers on 61.7% field-goal shooting in the postseason.
The second-year forward averaged 13.8 points and 5.5 rebounds through 57 regular-season games, comparable to the 13.5 points and 6.1 boards he racked up in 48 games as a rookie.
Hachimura had his share of issues during the season, however. He missed the first three weeks with an eye infection and had to sit out for a period due to coronavirus protocols.
Now, he can see how the experiences prepared him for the challenge of the playoffs.
“The key (during the playoffs) was how well we worked together as a team. We had to review in-depth scouting reports and know our opponents inside and out, and I’m sure they did the same, so I knew it would come down to who plays harder.”
Hachimura said matching up against players like 76ers stars Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris was also a great experience, but he knows his team was hamstrung by their porous defense in the playoffs, allowing ample room for improvement next season.
When told Wizards head coach Scott Brooks praised him for raising his already high level of play in the postseason, Hachimura was clearly pleased.
“He said that? That makes me happy. I guess it shows in the court time I get.”
Now the grind of the season is behind him, Hachimura says he is ready to rest and recuperate.
“The season just ended but for now I want to relax and take care of myself. I can finally sleep in without having to set my alarm clock. That’s what I’m looking forward to most.”
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