On Monday, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham provided a positive update on forward Rui Hachimura, who has been dealing with a nasal fracture.
Hachimura has missed the Lakers’ last five games, but Ham believes that he will suit up for Tuesday’s NBA In-Season Tournament game against the Phoenix Suns.
“More than likely he’ll be out there for sure,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said about Rui Hachimura playing vs Suns tomorrow
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) December 4, 2023
In 12 games this season, Hachimura is averaging 11.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 assist per contest for the Lakers while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range.
When healthy, Hachimura is a key part of the Lakers rotation, and the team clearly values him after giving him a new three-year, $51 million deal this past offseason.
Los Angeles is getting closer to being at full strength, as the team also has forward Jarred Vanderbilt back now after he missed the start of the season with a heel injury.
Vanderbilt made his season debut on Saturday against the Houston Rockets. He finished with four rebounds and one assist in 13:41 of playing time. Vanderbilt did not score as he shot 0-for-2 from the field (both shots were 3-point attempts).
There’s no doubt that Ham and the Lakers want Hachimura back in the rotation, but it could create some tough calls for Ham in terms of minute distribution. It’s possible that a player falls out of the rotation with Hachimura returning.
During the 2022-23 regular season, Hachimura played 22.4 minutes per game in 33 contests with the Lakers (nine starts) after the team acquired him in a trade with the Washington Wizards. So far in the 2023-24 campaign, he’s seen a slight increase in his minutes (averaging 23.3 per game) and has started one time in 12 games.
Lakers fans will have to wait and see how Ham handles the rotation to get as many key players on the floor as he can. Los Angeles is hoping to take down the Suns on Tuesday to advance further in the NBA’s In-Season Tournament.
The Lakers already have two wins over Phoenix this season. Tuesday’s game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. PST from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.