The first move that the Los Angeles Lakers made during the 2022-23 season in an attempt to reinvent the roster was trading for Washington’s Rui Hachimura. Los Angeles traded Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks for Hachimura, who had his ups and downs in LA in the regular season.
Hachimura certainly earned some naysayers along the way. There were games in which Hachimura disappeared or simply was not used by Darvin Ham. Suddenly, the decision to pay three second-round picks for him looked like an ill-fated one.
With Hachimura being a restricted free agent after the 2022-23 season, some fans and pundits were penciling in this trade as a bad one for the Lake Show. Hachimura made sure to prove all of those naysayers wrong on Sunday with a tremendous showing against the Memphis Grizzlies.
In his first-career playoff game, the former lottery pick scored a team-high 29 points off the bench to go along with six rebounds and an assist. Hachimura shot 11-14 from the field and 5-6 from downtown.
Lakers trading for Rui Hachimura is instantly justified with this one game.
It might seem silly to justify an entire trade with just one game but that is exactly what Hachimura’s performance did. The entire upside of trading for someone like Hachimura is the potential for them to steal a game in a playoff series. That is exactly what Hachimura did in this game.
Without his outburst off the bench (and Austin Reaves channeling his inner Kobe Bryant) the Lakers do not win this game. Even if he does not replicate this performance, Hachimura stole a game for the Lakers and that could swing the entire series.
That is worth three second-round picks, especially when LA only gave away one of its second-round picks. One of the picks was the Bulls’ 2023 second-round pick and another is a second-round pick swap in 2028. The only selection that LA outright gave away was its 2029 second-round pick.
Add in the fact that the Lakers received three second-round picks for Thomas Bryant (shipping one of them off for Mo Bamba) and it isn’t hard to piece together how great this asset management was for the team. With Hachimura’s Game 1 outburst, he has cemented this as an A+ trade for the purple and gold.
And that is before we consider the fact that the Lakers reportedly want to bring Hachimura back after this season to hopefully put together more huge games like this in big moments.
Anyone saying the Hachimura trade was bad for Los Angeles is outright wrong.