The Toronto Raptors parted ways with Kyle Lowry in the offseason, but their deal with the Miami Heat allowed them to recoup an experienced veteran guard in Goran Dragic and a promising young big man in Precious Achiuwa. The Nigerian international center proved to be one of the stars of the preseason.
Achiuwa was third on the team in points per game during the preseason while coming in first in rebounds and steals per game. Toronto wanted to add as many athletic big men as possible during the offseason, and Achiuwa might be one of their most promising newcomers.
While he didn’t put up amazing numbers in Miami, it’s hard to get tons of quality minutes when you’re being trapped behind a player as skilled as Bam Adebayo. Dragic himself thinks that Nick Nurse’s system might actually get more out of Achiuwa than what Erik Spoelstra had him doing in South Beach.
Dragic claims that the Heat put Achiuwa in “a little bit of a box” last year, saying that they just told him to run hard, set screens, catch lobs, and rebound. Toronto, by comparison, is letting him be a freer and more complete player, and that could lead to him developing into a star at a faster rate.
Goran Dragic thinks the Toronto Raptors will unleash Precious Achiuwa.
Achiuwa averaged just 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game during his first year with the Heat. While he did a solid job of playing the role they asked him to play and backing up Adebayo, it’s also fair to say that considering everything he has to work with athletically, that wasn’t the environment for his talents to flourish.
The move to Toronto meant that Achiuwa was joining a team that was going to encourage him to improve his jump shot, make plays as a distributor, defend multiple positions, and attack the rim with some huge dunks. Based on his preseason showing, he appears to be well on his way to taking that leap.
Dragic’s comments sound less like a shot at Spoelstra for not using Achiuwa properly and more like praise of Nurse for finally giving him the tools to succeed. Considering what a hyped recruit, dominant college player, and impressive Olympic stud he has become, a system like Toronto’s is perfect for turning him into a consistent NBA force.
If Achiuwa develops a 3-point shot, something that he was not going to pick up in Miami based on how he was playing, he could really start to assert himself among the other young bigs in the Eastern Conference. Considering how the swap panned out, both parties are probably happy with the deal.