While the Lakers are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and key rotation players are missing or, in the case of Austin Reaves, underperforming, one silver lining from Wednesday’s loss to the Rockets was Rui Hachimura.
Hachimura has struggled in his limited action this season, averaging eight points and three rebounds heading into Wednesday’s action. But he returned back from injury after missing four games and looked better than ever, logging 24 points on 10-14 shooting in 26 minutes of activity.
Pretty much the only bright spot tonight https://t.co/1IQUvKnflp— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) November 9, 2023
Hachimura playing this well is closer to the player we saw, giving the Grizzlies and Warriors problems in the early rounds of the playoffs and keeping the Lakers in games against Denver in the Western Conference Finals. Following the game, Hachimura discussed how his four games out gave him a new perspective on how to fit with this squad.
“As you guys know, I missed a couple of games,” Hachimura said. “But during that time, I was able to watch the games and kind of see where I could fit on this team. I was just playing harder today and bringing the energy off the bench.”
While LeBron James might be sick of hearing about playing harder, Hachimura certainly conceded it is a way he and the Lakers can improve.
Head coach Darvin Ham has visions of Hachimura being his best self coming off the bench and at least for one night, he exemplified that, even if it didn’t result in a win.
Having Hachimura in form unlocks a better version of the Lakers. It gives Ham a sixth man or the option of implementing him into a struggling starting lineup and provides the team with much-needed size to help win the rebounding battle. This has been a weakness of the team all season long, as they are currently averaging 42.8 rebounds a game, the eighth lowest in the NBA, according to NBA.com.
The question is, will Hachimura look more like the players he’s been the first three games of the season or the player we saw in Houston? With career averages of 12.5 points and five rebounds a game, the data indicates he’ll be closer to his Wednesday iteration throughout the year.
We’ll see if Hachiumra can continue to build off this performance and help the Lakers get their first road victory in Phoenix on Friday.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.