Grading the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards deal for Rui Hachimura

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Grading the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards deal for Rui Hachimura

Basketball

Grading the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards deal for Rui Hachimura

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The Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers have struck on a trade that sends forward Rui Hachimura to the Lakers. In exchange, the Wizards will acquire shooting guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round draft picks.

The second round draft picks that the Wizards received in the move are  a 2023 second via Chicago, 2029 LA second and and a less favorable of 2028 Washington/LA seconds. Here is how each team graded out.

Los Angeles Lakers: Rui Hachimura. Grade: B+

For the Lakers, this is a win-win trade. Hachimura bring size and depth to a roster that desperately needs it. He is also still only 24 years old and has much room to grow playing with the stars on the team. The Lakers traded for him with the intention of re-signing him to a long term deal after the season ends. Hachimura is a restricted free agent after the season and the team will own his rights so they can outright sign him or at worst, let him test free agency and then match whatever another team signs him too.

Hachimura also brings shooting to this roster. He is an excellent catch-and-shoot three point shooter. Playing alongside LeBron James and likely Russell Westbrook should allow this to continue and get good open looks. Here is how his shooting percentages have looked on catch-and-shoot opportunities over the last few seasons:

2022-23: 36.6%

2021-22: 46.6%

2020-21: 34.1%

This moves solidifies the want from the Lakers to make a push towards the postseason. Los Angeles is only a few games back of a playoff spot and star Anthony Davis looks to be returning from injury this week. James continues to look like one of the best players in the league despite his age so this team could be dangerous come playoff time. They have work to do to reach the postseason but this trade seems like the first of a few to improve the roster on the edges.

 

Wizards: Kendrick Nunn, 2023 second round pick via Chicago, 2028 & 2029 Lakers second round picks. Grade: C- 

Washington has struggled to utilize Rui Hachimura in the three years since he was drafted with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Hachimura was plugged into a tough log jam with other talented wings/forwards in Kyle Kuzma, Deni Avdija etc. but now he’s been freed to thrive in Los Angeles. Currently, Washington sits as the 12th seed in the East but just made a move to shed a young player who still holds lots of untapped potential. Perhaps, it’s just an admittance from the franchise that they messed up Hachmiura’s development but either way, the optics of this move don’t look good for Washington.

It’s a move that doesn’t move the needle in any way. Since coming off an injury riddled 2021-22 season in which he didn’t play a game, Kendrick Nunn has shown a lot of rust in a fluctuating Lakers situation. Nunn is averaging 6.7 PPG with an assist and a rebound on poor 40/32/81 efficiency splits. That’s a far cry from the near 15 PPG he averaged as a member of the Heat during his first two seasons. Nunn isn’t the solid contributor he once was and will fill in for spurts off the bench. As for the few seconds the Wizards received, it’s a travesty Washington couldn’t have forced the Lakers hand into forking up a first round pick. Overall, this isn’t a major trade with any big pieces so the Wizards didn’t end up with the worst return. However, they still clearly get the short end of the stick.

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