Dragic’s involvement in the Lowry trade was for salary-balancing purposes, so the real prize of the deal from Toronto’s standpoint was Achiuwa. The promising 22-year-old big man showed out in the preseason, averaging 12.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.0 steals, to likely lock down the starting center role.
Best Case Scenario
Playing in the same Miami frontcourt as Bam Adebayo, a rookie Achiuwa averaged just 12.1 minutes last season, offering encouraging Per 36 numbers (14.8 points, 10.2 rebounds) but little in the way of actual production.
That shouldn’t be a problem this year, as the Raptors don’t have any All-Star centers blocking his path, and team executives are anxious to get a look at what he can do.
Achiuwa took full advantage of a big preseason opportunity, showcasing dimensions to his game beyond just rebounding. His 6-8 frame is small for the position, but it enabled him to demonstrate some surprisingly adept ball-handling and disrupt passing lanes with steals.
Achiuwa’s versatility and defense make him ideally suited for the Raptors’ system. Assuming all goes well with his development this season, we could be watching the club’s first foundational player at the center position since Jonas Valanciunas.
Will the Toronto Raptors improve on Precious Achiuwa’s weaknesses?
Worst Case Scenario
… but can he shoot? The preseason featured an unshackled Achiuwa putting up nine three-point attempts after trying none last season (he made two). It’s nice that he’s getting the opportunity to develop on the go, but that could come with significant growing pains, particularly on the offensive end.
As for his inside game, unless he plays alongside Birch, Achiuwa won’t have another big body to help take the brunt of the interior play. While the Nigerian big man isn’t exactly frail, his frame doesn’t quite measure up to some of the men he’ll be battling on the glass with.
The real worst-case scenario here is sadly watching Lowry elevate the Heat to championship contender status while sharing the same bromance with Jimmy Butler that he did with DeMar DeRozan. Sure, we’d be happy for him, but it still wouldn’t be easy to watch in another jersey. Of course, none of that falls on Achiuwa!