WASHINGTON -- Days before his plan to begin practicing with the Capital City Go-Go, Wizards forward Rui Hachimura took another step towards returning, if mostly a symbolic one.
Hachimura participated in the Wizards' morning shootaround ahead of their game against the Heat. It was the first time Hachimura had done that, according to head coach Wes Unseld Jr.
"He's been around. The fact he was able to go through parts of shootaround today was terrific. I think it's just another step in his ramp-up. We still don't have a definitive timetable, but every day it feels like it's more," Unseld Jr. said.
Hachimura, 24, has yet to practice with the team or appear in a game due to personal reasons. He missed the Wizards' training camp and preseason. He landed in D.C. in early October and has since been relegated to individual workouts.
Hachimura is expected to begin practicing with the Go-Go, the Wizards' G-League affiliate, this week. From there, he may appear in some of their games, as team president Tommy Sheppard indicated in an interview with the Team 980.
Given there are multiple steps left in his process towards returning, it could be several more weeks before he suits up for the Wizards. But just having him around more is appreciated by his teammates, including Corey Kispert who also played with him in college at Gonzaga.
"For me personally, it's great. I missed him a lot. It's really good to see him in the building and have one of my brothers back. He's meant a lot to me the last four years," Kispert said.
Hachimura was the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. In 105 career games, he has averaged 13.7 points and 5.8 rebounds. He has started every game of his NBA career so far.
The Wizards will be patient bringing him back, but will certainly look forward to having him as he is one of the best scorers on the team.
"It's a great sign for him and it's a great sign for us," Unseld Jr. said.