The Toronto Raptors decided to turn the page on the Kyle Lowry era, as a trade that sent him to the Miami Heat brought back a return package headline by former All-Star Goran Dragic and 2020 first-round pick Precious Achiuwa.
Achiuwa may not have set the world on fire by averaged 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game during his rookie season, but the Raptors wouldn’t have angled for him in a trade if they weren’t intrigued by his athletic ability, positionless versatility, and skill on both ends of the floor.
In addition to his work with Miami, Achiuwa was a member of the Nigerian national team during their Olympic trials. Head coach Mike Brown, currently an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, paid Achiuwa the ultimate compliment for a power forward, hinting that Precious reminds him of Draymond Green.
According to his coach, Achiuwa “guarded seven guys” on one possession, with Brown jokingly insinuating that the Memphis product was also defending people on the sideline in addition to all of his work on the court. Brown made special mention of his defense and ability to handle the ball despite his size.
“I’m sure (Erik Spoelstra) wants the same thing, but that’s what Draymond gives us every single possession,” Brown said. “He guards everybody, including the water boy, and then he pushes it on the break for us the other way. There are a lot of similarities here based on the feedback we got from the players and also from Spo.”
Precious Achiuwa could be a prized prospect for the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors are committed to playing a very fluid game on both sides of the ball. While no Raptor is taller than 6-9, an astounding 10 players on this roster are at least 6-7. While Achiuwa certainly adheres to this philosophy, the fact that he is also a top-shelf athlete with room to grow makes him even more desirable.
GM Bobby Webster claims that the Raptors were huge fans of Achiuwa in the draft last year, even going so far as to consider moving up from No. 29 to select him. Considering the defensive potential he brings to the table, it’s easy to see where the appeal in Achiuwa lies.
Achiuwa will likely see time as a small ball center off of the bench, as he could fight newly-signed big Khem Birch for minutes. Birch might’ve come back thanks to a three-year deal, but that likely won’t stop Achiuwa from becoming a starter if he impresses with his defense.
If the Raptors end up getting someone half as good as Green in Achiuwa, this trade will have been a massive success. If Nick Nurse can supplement that defense with an improved jumper, the sky is the limit.