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NBA: The Strengths and Weaknesses of prospect Rui Hachimura

Jason Mills

Potentially the third Japanese national to play in the NBA

Denver v Gonzaga
Denver v Gonzaga

There have been two Japanese players in the history of the NBA. The first was Yuta Tabuse. Tabuse played for the Phoenix Suns back in 2004, after he went undrafted in 2002, coming out of BYU-Hawaii. He was a 5’9 point guard who won a championship in North America playing for the Long Beach Jam of the ABA.  

A huge celebrity in Japan, Tabuse played in four games as a Phoenix Suns‘ player averaging 1.8 points per game. Since his time in Phoenix, Tabuse has played for D-League teams such as the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, Bakersfield Jam and the Anaheim Arsenal. He also was a member of the New Jersey Nets pro summer league team in Orlando back in 2008. The majority of his basketball success occurred in Japan.

The second Japanese player to make it into the NBA was 6’9 small forward Yuta Watanabe. Watanabe played college basketball in the United States for George Washington from 2014-18. Like his countryman Tabuse, he went undrafted in 2018. Watanabe played in the 2018 summer league for the Brooklyn Nets after which he signed a two-way contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Watanabe has played in three games for the Grizzlies this year averaging 1.3 points per game.

With the coming 2019 NBA Draft in June, the third ever Japanese player might find himself a member of the NBA. Rui Hachimura is a highly ranked third-year player for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Hachimura is a 6’8 230 pound small /power forward.  He is currently, according to, the 4th highest ranked prospect for the 2019 NBA Draft. He is averaging 21.7 points per game on 58% shooting and 6.7 rebounds per game. 

Hachimura will be 21 years old on February 8th, 2019. In recent weeks, both Bol Bol, who plays for the Oregon Ducks, and is the son of former NBA player Manute Bol and Rui Hachimura were ranked behind Duke’s Cameron Reddish. 

Reddish who seems to have been struggling with his game the last 3-4 weeks may end the possibility of the Duke Blue Devils having three players drafted 1,2, and 3 in the NBA Draft if he can't improve. In this article, we will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Rui Hachimura.

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