Report: Lakers' Rui Hachimura Expected to Eventually Start Alongside LeBron, Davis

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 24, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC -  JANUARY 21: Rui Hachimura #8 of the Washington Wizards warms up before the game against the Orlando Magic  on January 21, 2023 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Rui Hachimura did not start any of his 30 games this season with the Washington Wizards, but that will reportedly change now that he is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers following Monday's trade.

"It's unclear if Hachimura will start on day one, but the expectation is that he will start next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis once the rotation settles," Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported.

Not only could Hachimura, whom the Lakers acquired for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks, start down the stretch this season, but he could also be a long-term contributor.

Buha noted the Purple and Gold expect to sign the impending restricted free agent.

Hachimura's presence means the Lakers will not have to rely on as many three-guard lineups while Davis is sidelined by a foot injury. The Gonzaga product is versatile enough to play either forward position, which is one reason he can be a starter even when James and Davis are in the lineup.

His combination of size and athleticism to go with that versatility will help Los Angeles match up on the defensive side.

Opponents are shooting 10.1 percentage points worse from the field and 7.1 percentage points worse from deep when Hachimura defends them this season, per NBA.com. If he can maintain that impact, it will take pressure off the shoulders of James and others.

Hachimura is averaging 13.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from deep.

In an ideal world for the Lakers, that three-point figure would improve as he takes advantage of the spacing available when opponents focus on James and Davis.

If it does and Hachimura continues to play solid defense, he will be a key component as 12th-place Los Angeles (22-25) attempts to make a charge in the Western Conference.