The Hachimura Trade may not be the last move for either team, but this is a big first move for both LAL and Washington
On Saturday night, Rui Hachimura posted perhaps his best game of the season for the Washington Wizards, recording 30 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks in a convincing 138-118 win over the Orlando Magic. The young forward from Gonzaga will now pack his bags for Los Angeles, looking for a fresh start. The Lakers are sending Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to Washington in exchange for Hachimura. How well does this trade stack up for each side?
Los Angeles Lakers’ Trade Grade: A-
The Purple and Gold have been looking to upgrade their roster for multiple seasons, and this move certainly does that. Once the 9th overall draft pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Hachimura has shown inconsistency and a lack of availability (averaging just 49 games played per season through 3 years) but has also shown a great deal of length, potential, and pure talent.
Kendrick Nunn has provided nearly nothing for LAL during his tenure, and the Lakers’ franchise has never been one to value 2nd round picks, so getting Hachimura for a relatively cheap deal is an incredible steal. Joining a team with arguably the worst depth in the Western Conference, Hachimura should make an immediate impact.
The only reason this trade is not an A or A+ is that, from a fit standpoint, Hachimura does not fix any of the Lakers’ main problems or elevate them enough in a way that changes their overall outlook. The Japanese forward is a 35.6% career three-point shooter, and he has also historically been a below-average defender. Having said that, he cannot possibly harm the Lakers.
Washington Wizards’ Trade Grade: C
The Wizards have been needing to cut ties with Hachimura for quite some time now. Hachimura was unable to separate himself fast enough in his early seasons due to a plethora of injuries, health and safety protocol stints, and overall inconsistent play. Even this season, he expressed frustration with the Wizards and was stuck in a rotation with Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma, and Deni Avdija. With his contract nearing its end, the Wizards finally agreed to move on.
While we should not blame the Wizards for trading Hachimura, the return haul that they received for him can be described as nothing more than lackluster. Second round picks are dart throws more than anything else, so having three of them is great, but it is more likely than not that they will not pan out.
The biggest perk of this trade for Wizards fans is that this may point to an eventual blowup of the roster this season. Kyle Kuzma, Monte Morris, and Will Barton, among others, can still be dealt before the trade deadline, which will open up more playing time to younger players such as Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert, and, dare I say, Johnny Davis…