The Toronto Raptors picked up a very intriguing big man prospect in the Kyle Lowry deal with the Miami Heat, as a former top recruit in Precious Achiuwa arrived in town. The No. 20 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft figures to slot in as the backup center this season behind Khem Birch.
Achiuwa had a bit of an uneven season in Miami, but it isn’t necessarily his fault. He was stuck behind a tremendous starting center in Bam Adebayo, and he was a bit too raw for a contending team like the Heat to leave out on the floor for extended minutes.
He landed in an ideal situation in Toronto, as Nick Nurse can help him develop his offense while allowing him gradually see his minutes increase this season. Achiuwa’s springiness, ability to defend multiple positions, and rin-rocking dunks are all traits that appeal to Masai Ujiri.
What can the Raptors expect from Achiuwa this season? Considering that he was brought to Toronto as part of the Lowry deal, Ujiri clearly thinks that he and the Raptors can turn him into an intriguing piece for the future.
What can the Raptors expect from Precious Achiuwa in 2021?
Since Achiuwa averaged 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game with Miami, his averages need to jump up to somewhere around 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Considering he’ll get a more steady diet of minutes in Toronto, those numbers shouldn’t be too hard for him to reach.
While Achiuwa made 54% of his shots, most of his looks were right at the rim. The Raptors should be willing to accept a slight downturn in his efficiency if he improves as a shooter. Achiuwa should try to take around one or two 3-pointers per game, and a 30% clip could be a solid goal to aim for during just his second season.
On defense, Achiuwa averaged half a block per game last year, and he should bump that average up with more minutes. Box score stats may not tell the full impact of his defense, however. Look for him to play out on the perimeter a bit more, as Ujiri’s directive to build a positionless team could come to fruition thanks to Achiuwa.
Achiuwa, who earned a Draymond Green comparison, will be given a defined role in the rotation while being forced to add several different facets to his game, so it’s fair for the Raptors to expect Achiuwa to take a step forward. If he steps on the gas pedal and really shines, he has enough talent to potentially wrestle a starting spot away from Birch.