If the Phoenix Suns slide in the Lottery, Rui Hachimura might save them

Rui Hachimura Phoenix Suns (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rui Hachimura Phoenix Suns (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

There is a very unfortunate but real chance that the Phoenix Suns select 7th in the NBA Draft – and can’t trade the pick. Rui Hachimura might be the best available player.

Rui Hachimura is half of the Gonzaga front court combo (along with Brandon Clarke) that led their team to the Elite Eight this year.

Hachimura’s NBA potential is based on his already developing versatility on both sides of the ball and his ability to grow those skills as he refines his game.

His advanced stats paint an very clear picture of his strengths and weaknesses expanded upon from what you see when watching his games.

Rui posted a true shooting % of 63.9% which was 49th best in the NCAA bolstered particularly by shooting 61% from inside the arc.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

He combined that with an inate ability to draw fouls posting a FT rate of 47.7 and 6 fouls drawn per 40-minutes (Deandre Ayton averaged only 3.7 attempts per-36min in the NBA last year – a situation that many fans had a big issue with).

Rui posted these solid offensive numbers by scoring in a variety of different ways especially by using his physical tools to exploit mis-matches both in the post and via straight-line drives from the perimeter. He also proved to be a solid finisher and his shooting numbers clearly reflect that.

His has defensive ability is based heaily on his athleticism and frame, and posted 2.7 defensive win shares which ranked top-20 in the country in 2018-19. He also ranked top-10 in overall win shares (7.4) and win shares per-40min (.264) while placing top-20 in offensive win shares as well.

In short: he helps his team win.

Hachimura is a really hard worker that improved his game in each of his three seasons at Gonzaga, shooting significantly better from 3 this past season (his junior year) than prior, 42% compared to 19% in his sophomore season.

Beyond that, he has maintained his shooting numbers inside the arc despite taking many more shots than when he began. Very importantly, he was able to maintain efficiency while increasing his offensive load.

There is much good about Rui’s game and how it might translate to the pros, but also some bad.

For instance, the game sometimes seems to move too fast for him leading to poor decision making and bad passing.

His 12.9% turnover rate displays as much along with his dismal 9.1 assist rate.

Additionally, Rui needs to be more active and physical on the glass. His rebounding rate numbers regressed on both sides of the ball, 7.4% to 5.9% on the offensive glass and 18% to 17% from his second to third. He also seems behind defensively making few blocks and steals and often seemed lost in defensive sets.

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Overall, there is much to like with Rui – plenty for the Phoenix Suns to select him if he is the best available player and they are unable to move out from their spot.

He has solid potential and the work ethic to meet his ceiling. However, it is also clear that he needs additional coaching, so Rui’s NBA potential could be made or broken based on the team that drafts him and the resources pushed into his development.