Rui Hachimura was the first player acquired by LA Lakers GM Rob Pelinka at the February trade deadline. Pelinka sent Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to the Washington Wizards to acquire the Japanese forward. In 33 games with the Lakers, nine of them as a starter, Hachimura averaged 9.6 points and 4.7 rebounds. Hachimura has often mentioned LeBron James as one of his biggest motivators since moving to Hollywood.
Going into training camp, Pelinka noted the close working relationship between James and Hachimura. He noted how the Japanese spent a lot of time training with the four-time MVP and how the former Wizard benefited from the veteran.
“King James,” in response to Rob Pelinka’s post, tweeted a classic scene from the movie The Karate Kid. The clip shows “Mr. Miyagi,” played by Pat Morita, teaching “Daniel” (Ralph Macchio), a young American karate enthusiast, the finer points of the discipline.
The reference to the iconic movie is played upside down in real life. LeBron James is American while Rui Hachimura is Japanese. However, the essence of both situations remains the same. It’s an old tale of a young monkey learning from a grizzled master.
“King James” will enter the 21st season of his career this October. Hachimura will play only his fifth and first full year with the LA Lakers. Rob Pelinka signed him to a three-year, $51 million contract with the team in the offseason.
The ninth pick in the 2019 draft shows his value for the Lakers, especially in the playoffs. He has become an integral part of the bench for coach Darvin Ham. In 16 postseason games, he averaged 12.2 points on a blistering 48.7% shooting from deep.
LA pulled off a streak against higher-ranked opponents in the playoffs. They defeated the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and the sixth-ranked Golden State Warriors because of LeBron James. Rui Hachimura is an important part of the supporting cast.
Rui Hachimura is a versatile weapon that LeBron James can rely on
Part of what made Rui Hachimura important for the LA Lakers last season was his versatility. He sometimes plays the power forward role when Darvin Ham wants to play less ball. Hachimura lined up next to Anthony Davis on the frontline.
In the playoffs, Hachimura forced LeBron James out of some defensive pressure. The Japanese also helped guard Jaren Jackson Jr., Klay Thompson and Nikola Jokic.
On offense, Rui Hachimura’s blistering form from deep helped open up the opponents’ defense. When he’s on the floor, James and Davis have a little more room to operate in the paint. Hachimura is also a deadly weapon on fastbreaks.
After a full training camp and preseason, LeBron James could use even more of Hachimura’s skills on both ends of the floor.