NBA trade season is now in full effect as the Washington Wizards are sending former 2019 lottery pick Rui Hachimura to the Los Angeles Lakers for point guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks.
Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news in waves via Twitter:
The Los Angeles Lakers are finalizing a trade sending guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to the Washington Wizards for Rui Hachimura, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. https://t.co/aTP7eYyGOh— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 23, 2023
Although the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference, the Lakers have had an up-and-down 2022-23 NBA season. A rocky start was counteracted with a five-game winning streak ushering in the 2023 calendar year. In the process, L.A has been without the services of star Anthony Davis, who has been sidelined with a foot injury since their Dec. 16 matchup against the Denver Nuggets.
Injuries are nothing new for Davis, as the 2017-18 season was the last time he played 70-plus games, and only one of two seasons he’s done so in his career. He has played 101 games over the last three years. Trading for Hachimura gives the Lakers a young backup power forward that can provide stable offense and competent play.
Hachimura averages 13 points and snags 4.3 rebounds per game on 48.8 percent shooting from the floor. While his 33.7 percent clip from the three-point line does little to solve a dearth in that category for the storied franchise (No. 30 with 10.4 3PM per game), Hachimura did shoot 44.7 percent from distance a season ago on 2.9 three-pointers attempted (42 games played).
Given the plethora of point guards on the Lakers’ roster — including LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Dennis Schroder, and Nunn — L.A. had expendability at that position.
As for the Wizards, they acquire a four-year point guard in Nunn who was the starter on the 2019-20 Miami Heat team that made a trip to the NBA Finals that year. Nunn was a standout player for the team, earning 204 votes for Rookie of the Year in a second place finish to Memphis Grizzlies dynamo Ja Morant, who won the award with 489 total points. He notably finished over current MVP candidate Zion Williamson.
In his two seasons with Miami, Nunn boasted averages of 15.0 points per game on 36.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 88.1 percent from the charity stripe, with a near-2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. Coming back from a knee injury that robbed him of the entire 2021-22 NBA season, he has not flourished in Los Angeles. He’s only started 2 of 39 games played, with career-low numbers and efficiency in every category save turnovers.
Washington will look to ingratiate Nunn into the rotation and count on him to remedy a point guard void that has existed since the departure of John Wall in 2019. Current starting point guard Monte Morris has carried over his uber efficient and cautious play into the nation’s capital, committing only 0.9 turnovers in 28.5 minutes of play to 5.5 assists per contest.
Morris is also second on the team in three-point percentage at 39.7 percent, it remains to be seen if Nunn will start or come off the bench to commence his tenure.
Regarding what this means for the Blazers, the Lakers just got bigger up front, while maintaining a certain level of youth. We saw what happened yesterday evening, as the Lake Show dominated Rip City in rebounds (51-38) and points in the paint (62-38). Adding Hachimura to the mix only adds another player to game plan for as both teams are slated to meet once more on Feb. 13.