The Toronto Raptors will have to play their first set of games in almost a decade without Kyle Lowry, as he has confirmed that he will be linking up with the Miami Heat in 2021-22. As part of his decision to sign a three-year, $90 million contract, Toronto has a sign-and-trade agreement that will bring Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa to Canada.
While Dragic eats up $19.4 million due to his player option, he could be flipped to a contending team for more assets. Achiuwa is the prize here, as the 2020 first-round selection could be a valuable part of the future in Toronto.
Achiuwa averaged 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game on 54% shooting during his rookie season, but there is reason to believe that the Nigerian international has plenty of positive traits to offer the Raptors at just 21 years of age. After all, he was one of the most hyped recruits in the country at Memphis.
If Achiuwa is indeed coming back to Toronto in a sign-and-trade, where would he best fit on this roster? While he has plenty of interesting facets to his game, it will take some time to develop him and find out where he fits in best in the NBA.
How could Precious Achiuwa help the Toronto Raptors?
Achiuwa is a top-shelf athlete at the forward position, and he pairs some verticality and speed with a motor that helps him vacuum up rebounds on both ends of the floor. A surprising ball-handler for a player at his size and position, Achiuwa should work well in a Toronto scheme that likes to push the pace.
On defense, Achiuwa can hold his own on the interior while switching out to some bigger wing players and shutting them down. At 6-8 with a 7-1 wingspan, he fits in with Masai Ujiri’s new directive to build the team out of versatile, long-limbed forwards that can move around on the defensive end.
The biggest thing holding Achiuwa back is his shooting. His numbers from Memphis are uninspiring, and almost all of his shot attempts with Miami last year came in the paint. At his size, Nick Nurse is going to require that he take a huge step forward in that department.
While Achiuwa could fit in as a smaller center due to the fact Toronto lacks a traditional one on the roster at the moment, an old-school power forward role could suit him well despite the logjam at that position. Don’t be surprised if he sees time as a small forward in some bigger lineup combinations.
Achiuwa will likely be used as either a small-ball center or traditional power forward during his first season with Toronto though the former gives him a pathway to immediate playing time. It will take some time to improve his shooting, but the rewards could be jaw-dropping.