Rui Hachimura explains mental toll of this Wizards season

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Chase Hughes
·2 min read
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Rui Hachimura explains mental toll of this Wizards season originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Few Wizards players are as consistent in their approach as second-year forward Rui Hachimura. Though he's still a young player coming into his own, he is usually good for 13 or 14 points, five or six rebounds and an aggressive mentality when he gets the ball.

On Friday night, he wasn't himself and that was surprising, in part because in the past he has shown a knack for transitioning quickly when coming back from long absences. But this time off was different, it involved a positive coronavirus test, two weeks in quarantine and just a few days of practice before he returned to game action.

It was a lot to grapple with and Hachimura will admit he felt the effects in the Wizards' loss to the Hawks.

"I just need to get back to basketball mentally. I was out for two weeks at the beginning of the season, then I came back, then I was out for two weeks again. It’s really hard to keep my mind," Hachimura said.

Hachimura made reference to his previous time missed due to a severe case of conjunctivitis. He sat out the first four games of the season, then returned to play in seven games before the team's season was halted due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

In his first game back from that injury, he had 17 points (5-8 FG, 2-2 3PT) and five rebounds. On Friday, he topped out at nine points and shot 3-for-9.

Two weeks is a long time to sit out in the middle of a regular season and with no access to the team's practice facility even to shoot around. Hachimura spent that time at home, playing video games and watching prison shows on Netflix.

"I was watching some crazy stuff," Hachimura said.

But coming out of that break was a big challenge, as he had to play catch-up with his own teammates and then against a Hawks team that was in midseason form.

"It was very difficult physically and mentally," Hachimura said.

"I don’t think my mind was right. I wasn’t ready and focused on playing basketball and playing games. I think I’ve gotta focus on it more."

This has been a trying season for the Wizards, who are now 3-12 having lost four straight. They had starting center Thomas Bryant go down with a season-ending ACL injury, then six players test positive for the coronavirus. That led to six games being postponed.

Hachimura was one of the players who spent the longest in protocol. Clearly, the experience wasn't easy.