One of the hallmarks of a great NBA player is his ability to make those around him better, and former Los Angeles Lakers champion Derek Fisher thinks Rui Hachimura is benefiting from being around great players like LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“Rui’s kind of always had flashes of what we’re seeing on a consistent basis now,” Fisher told The Sporting News.
“It takes time for players to mature and grow into the best versions of themselves. But what I can tell you is from experience of being around guys that are considered one of the greatest to ever do it — the way I was with Kobe Bryant, seeing Shaq’s (Shaquille O’Neal’s) dominance, seeing Phil Jackson’s coaching brilliance, watching Jerry Sloan operate with his hard-nosed approach to coaching — when you’re around guys that are really really great, it is definitely contagious.”
In total, Hachimura has been with the Lakers for less than a full season, having arrived via trade during the 2022-23 campaign and now beginning a season with Los Angeles for the first time.
The 25-year-old made a strong impression in helping the Lakers reach the 2023 Western Conference Finals, and he re-signed with them during this past offseason as a free agent.
In 12 games played this season, the Gonzaga University product is averaging 11.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while playing a little more than 23 minutes per contest.
“I think being around LeBron on a daily basis and seeing his greatness, seeing Anthony Davis’ greatness, being in the Lakers organization and feeling the weight of, ‘If we don’t win a championship then nothing else really matters,'” Fisher continued.
“As a player, I think that kind of forces you to elevate how you look at things.”
Hachimura and the rest of his Lakers teammates are getting to see greatness up close with the early-season play of James. About to turn 39 years old next month and in his 21st NBA season, the superstar remains one of the best players in the NBA, averaging 25.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game in his 15 appearances.
Despite a stated plan to have his playing time more closely monitored, James is averaging almost 34 minutes per game. That plan reportedly will be revisited once the Lakers roster gets healthier.
He also has been effective during the new NBA In-Season Tournament, with one former NBA player saying James is motivated by adding that particular title to his side of the ledger in his comparison to Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all time.
Meanwhile, Davis this season is averaging 21.5 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. But perhaps more importantly, the 30-year-old has been able to play in 15 of the Lakers’ 16 games so far, helping them to a 9-7 record overall.
Fisher played in 13 seasons over two stints with the Lakers and won five NBA championships playing with great teammates such as Bryant and O’Neal. As a result, the retired guard knows the type of impact players like James and Davis can have, and his words on Hachimura can only be seen as encouraging.