Is Rui Hachimura on the verge of a breakout season?

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Is Rui Hachimura on the verge of a breakout season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Rui Hachimura has returned from a month-long injury absence looking like a different guy. Already having a solid season overall, over his last five games Hachimura has gone from solid to spectacular.

He had a game-high 26 points against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night, shooting 11-for-18 from the field and 3-for-5 from 3-point range. Hachimura also added four rebounds, three assists and a steal.

That steal was punctuated by a fastbreak dunk on the other end, one of a series of strong finishes from the fourth-year pro. During this recent stretch, Hachimura's best traits have been on display. He has been spreading the floor with outside shooting, while punishing opposing teams around the rim.

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In his last five games since coming back from rehabbing a bone bruise in his right ankle, Hachimura is averaging 21.4 points per game on 60% shooting from the field. He is beginning to really hit his stride, now with two games scoring 25 points or more after not doing so once last year.

Hachimura is playing so well that opposing teams are moving him up the scouting report. He's changing the way the rest of the league views him, as Suns head coach Monty Williams explained last week.

"I think from the jump you felt like he was a guy that could score the ball. It seems like he has more confidence shooting threes now. Before, it was more midrange, in my opinion, playing the post. He seems to have more confidence to stretch it [with his three]," Williams said.

"I always thought he was a one-dribble pull-up guy. Now he can put it down for more than one dribble. He's a big, strong kid. If you don't have a sizable guy to guard him, he can bury you. So, I think he's going to be a guy that can draw double teams against smaller guys. That's always an advantage for a team."

That is great detail from a rival coach. Hachimura has always been a difficult player to stop once he gets downhill off the dribble. But now that he's more experienced, stronger and has developed further as a ball-handler, he is uniquely good at attacking defenders with a bull rush to the rim.

That element added with an improved outside shot makes Hachimura increasingly tough to stay in front of. Once he has a step on someone, he can lower his shoulder and force his way to the basket through contact.

Hachimura's season overall has been maligned by his long injury absence, which caused him to miss 16 of the Wizards' 38 games. He has been their fourth-leading scorer, but has only played 59% of the time.

But now that he's healthy and playing like this, the possibilities for what Hachimura could make of this season are growing. With his team having only played 38 of their 82 regular season games, there is still time to have a breakout year.

Hachimura is now averaging 13.6 points per game, just shy of his career-high (13.8). He is shooting the highest field goal percentage (52.2) of his career and the second-highest 3-point percentage (34.5).

Hachimura is comfortable in his role and helping the Wizards win games. Perhaps before long, stretches like Hachimura has produced over his last five games will become more commonplace. Maybe someday soon, that will just be who he is.