The Toronto Raptors are just a few days away from opening up the regular season against the Washington Wizards. They’re heading into this season with some serious momentum, as the likes of Precious Achiuwa, Scottie Barnes, and Malachi Flynn helped the Raptors take home a win against Washington to end their preseason stint at 3-2.
The Raptors were buoyed by some standout performances from their rookie class and some new additions fitting perfectly into Nick Nurse’s system. This squad wants to play fast, cause chaos on defense, and convert turnovers into easy transition opportunities on the other end.
The Raptors are not expected to be a contender, but given how wide-open the East can be, Toronto should easily be in the mix for one of the final playoff spots. Their ceiling will ultimately be determined by some preseason starts trying to sustain their momentum and some duds trying to turn things around.
Which Toronto Raptors players are looking up after a strong start to the season? Are there any players or trends that were on the decline in the preseason?
Stock Up, Stock Down for the Toronto Raptors after 2021 preseason.
Stock Up: Precious Achiuwa
Achiuwa arrived in Toronto as part of the Kyle Lowry deal, as the Raptors had the idea of turning him into a positionless center that thrives on elite athleticism and versatility. Based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, Achiuwa is ready to make a major impact on both ends as soon as the regular season starts.
Achiuwa was one-tenth of a point behind Fred VanVleet for second on the team in points per game. He led the team in rebounding (8.6 per game) and steals (2.0 per game) while showing off all of the explosion, verticality, and intuition in transition that made him such a coveted prospect in high school and college.
Precious Achiuwa has blown the Toronto Raptors away.
Achiuwa was brought in to supplement the roster as a bench player that gives energy and size, but he’s looking like a viable starter due to his willingness to handle the ball and take players off the dribble. If he gets that jumper working consistently, Achiuwa could be a part of the long-term core.
While he didn’t take over games with the Heat, that could be linked to the fact he received inconsistent minutes behind Bam Adebayo and lacked a defined role in their rotation. That stability, plus the confidence this staff clearly has in him, as Achiuwa playing much better than he did in Miami.