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Lakers’ Rui Hachimura chose No. 28 for Kobe, Gianna Bryant

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Last Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers traded Kendrick Nunn to the Washington Wizards for Rui Hachimura and three second-round draft picks, and one thing the fourth-year wing marked off his check list was picking No. 28 for Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

In an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on his “Know Mercy” podcast, Hachimura explained. “Our new player: Hachimura,” said Smith. “I asked him, ‘Have you chosen a number yet? He said, ‘Yeah, I’m wearing No. 28.’ I said, ‘Oh great!’ And he said, ‘Because of No. 2 for Gianna and No. 8 for Kobe.’ I was like, ‘This kid is going to do good.’ I like where his heart is at.”

According to a couple of NBA betting sites, the Lakers have 10th-best odds to win the championship. Some sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers.

Kobe Bryant wore Nos. 8 and 24 throughout his 20-year playing career. Gianna, Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter, died alongside her father and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on January 26, 2020. Gianna wore No. 2 during her young basketball career.

Rui Hachimura would love to win a championship with the Lakers for Kobe’s family. Through 34 appearances this season, the former Wizard is averaging 13 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. Plus, he’s shooting a career-best 49.2% from the field and 33.3% outside the arc.

Rui Hachimura decided to wear No. 28 with the Lakers to honor Kobe, Gianna Bryant

While with the Wizards, the forward tied his career high in scoring with 30 points against the Phoenix Suns (Dec. 28) and Orlando Magic (Jan. 21).

In the Lakers’ 129-123 overtime win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, Hachimura ended his outing with 19 points, nine boards, and one block in 41 minutes played. Also, he shot 8-of-12 (66.7%) from the floor and knocked down two 3-pointers.

Will the Lakers win their 18th championship this season? After trading for Hachimura, there’s a slim possibility. First, they have to make the playoffs. Los Angeles is currently 24-28 and ranks 13th in the Western Conference standings.

However, the team is averaging a fifth-best 117 points per game. The Lakers also rank ninth in floor percentage, shooting 48.1% from the field. Defensively, L.A. is among the worst teams in the NBA. Despite the offseason additions and trades, the Lakers are allowing 118.3 points per contest, which ranks 27th overall.

James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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