2. Khem Birch might really lose his starting center spot.
Birch made his debut today after testing positive for COVID-19 and taking a while to get back in shape. He managed just two points and a handful of rebounds, but that slow start can be excused. Despite Birch’s best efforts, he paled in comparison to the runaway steam train knows as Precious Achiuwa.
A case can be made that Achiuwa has been the most impressive player on this team through the preseason. The former No. 20 overall pick has averaged 13.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game, prompting some speculation that Birch could lose his starting spot to the springy Achiuwa.
Will the Toronto Raptors start Precious Achiuwa over Khem Birch?
The two couldn’t be more different stylistically, as Birch is a plodding traditional center with the girth to secure the rim and Achiuwa is a premium athlete better in a small ball attack, but Nurse is not the type of coach to let a superior performer sit on the bench. We may see Achiuwa in the starting lineup just yet.
Birch can put all of this to rest if he comes out in the preseason finale and looks like his old self. While Achiuwa might not get as many shots up with the starters as he would with the bench players, he looks miles ahead of where Toronto likely expected him to be at development-wise, and that could change Nurse’s plan for him.