Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura reflected on his rookie season after his team's final game on Thursday, sharing his thoughts on the coronavirus-hit NBA season and his future prospects.
"This season was really long, and a lot of things happened, but looking back I really learned a lot," the 22-year-old said.
"I think those things are going to help me going forward. First, I'm just thankful that everything worked out for me. And I look forward to next season," he said.
Hachimura was ruled out of Thursday's game due to right quad soreness as the team wrapped up their 2019-2020 season against the Boston Celtics at the Wide World of Sports Complex.
The Wizards won 96-90 to grab their first victory in eight seeding games played in the Orlando bubble. The team finished the season with a 25-47 win-loss record, well out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The first Japanese drafted who would go on to play in the NBA, Hachimura averaged 13.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 48 games.
Hachimura is widely tipped to be named to one of the league's all-rookie teams, having led all first-year players in rebounds per game and also finishing ranked fifth in scoring.
His season may have been even better, but he missed about a month-and-a-half while recovering from a kick to the groin suffered on Dec. 16.
With the Wizards missing key players Bradley Beal, John Wall and Davis Bertans in Florida, Hachimura stepped into an expanded role when the NBA tipped off its restart at Walt Disney World on July 30 after a four-month hiatus due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
"It was hard at first to be in a position to lead the team (in the seeding games) because I was always tightly marked," Hachimura, who scored 20 or more points three times after the league's return, said.
"But I learned how to operate under those circumstances. I hope to build off this experience. It will help me in my NBA career going forward."
While he says he is now familiar with the NBA lifestyle and prepared to deal with the mental and physical burdens of travel, he admitted nobody knows what next season will look like.
His role on the Wizards will also change when the team's all-star backcourt of Wall and Beal are reunited.
"When the team is whole again, when John and Brad return, it is going to be a fun team," Hachimura said.
"I don't know how much I can contribute, but I want to spend the off-season getting better and I hope to play well next season."
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