How the Hachimura trade impacts the Lakers and Wizards

Published January 26, 2023, 12:30 PMPolo Bustamante
Polo Bustamante

Will Rui Hachimiura be the answer to the Lakers’ issues? What do the Wizards get out of the trade?

After months of speculation dating back to even before the season started, the Los Angeles Lakers finally made a move. It’s not the one everyone had in mind. It was a deal that happened quickly and out of the blue.

A few days after Rui Hachimura was reportedly being shopped around by the Washington Wizards, the Lakers swooped in with a deal to acquire the Japanese forward. The Lakers sent the Wizards Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks in exchange for Hachimura.

This is a win-win trade for both teams and both players.

Los Angeles Lakers

Hachimura is exactly what the Lakers need. He’s joining the team at the right time because he can immediately help the team while several of their starters are healing up. Once the core of the team is healthy, Hachimura can easily fill in several roles on the team with his size and versatility.

Right now, with Anthony Davis, Lonnie Walker IV, and Austin Reeves all out, the Lakers just need someone who can score, and Hachimura can do just that. His stats from the past four seasons might be underwhelming (13.0 PPG, 47.9% FG), but he’s shown glimpses of what he can do on the offensive end. 

In the last game before he was traded, Hachimura exploded for 30 points on 59.1 percent shooting, hitting 3-of-5 triples in that game. He’s shown during his time in DC that he can score from anywhere on the court. Hachimura has the speed to take guys off the dribble or the size to post them up. He can play off the ball as a cutter and as a shooter as well.

His versatility on the offensive end will come in handy when the team welcomes back Davis from a foot injury. At 6’8” and 230 pounds, Hachimura is the big forward that the Lakers need. He can slide into the small forward position when the Lakers play big or slot into the four-man slot next to Davis when the Lakers play small. His off-ball scoring will definitely be needed by the Lakers when playing with LeBron James and Davis.

On paper, Hachimura is a pedestrian shooter this season (1.0 3PM on 33.7% 3P). But taking a look back to last season, he had solid numbers from beyond the arc, averaging 1.3 makes at a 44.7 percent clip. So the ability to shoot is there, it’s just a matter of putting him in the right spots to make those shots.

With the frontcourt in Washington so crowded, Hachimura also gets a fresh start in LA. This could allow him to spread his wings further and showcase his other talents. He’s big enough to defend the paint while being mobile enough to play comfortably in the perimeter. That could make him a weapon on defense, one that the 22nd-ranked defensive team in the league could definitely use.

Hachimura could bloom into a complete player with the Lakers. In turn, he could also help the team get out of the bottom of the West and back into playoff contention.

Washington Wizards

If the frontcourt in Washington was loaded, the backcourt is wide open. Outside of Bradley Beal, it’s been a rotating door when it comes to the other guards. That’s why there’s a clear opportunity for someone like Kendrick Nunn to get into the rotation and become a valuable part of the team.

Don’t let his time in LA fool you, Nunn is a do-it-all player that can play either guard position. He was a solid point guard during his time in Miami where he averaged 15.0 points and 3.0 assists, starting 111 out of a possible 123 games. Nunn can get to the lane with a quick first step or stroke the outside shot when given the chance (1.9 3PM, 35.3% 3P). He’s not a high-volume playmaker but the ball is safe in his hands (1.6 career TOPG).

As he learns the system, he’ll most likely be the fourth or fifth guard in the rotation. There’s a clear path for Nunn to become the team’s sixth man where he comes off the bench to provide a punch of scoring and playmaking. He can take over the lead creator role or play as the two guard, depending on what the team needs.

This trade also helps secure the future of the Wizards.

Nunn is on an expiring contract, meaning he’s off the books after this season. With hefty contracts set to be offered to Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis, the end of Nunn’s contract frees up cap space for Washington.

The Wizards were also able to nab three second-round picks from the Lakers. While that may not seem like much, any additional picks for a team like the Wizards are extra valuable. They’re a small-market team that doesn’t attract top-tier free agents. Second-round picks can be added sweeteners to future trades to bring in key players or they can be used to draft useful players to fill out the roster. 

Just take a look at the Wizards’ core. They’re made up of several second-round picks like Morris, Kuzma, and Daniel Gafford. So who knows, those picks might end up being key players on the team in the coming seasons.