Raptors: Precious Achiuwa’s improved stats off the bench are startling

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 11: Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 11: Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors needed to make some lineup alterations when Pascal Siakam came back into the lineup, and putting Precious Achiuwa on the bench seemed like the most logical move. Not only was Siakam likely to bump a frontcourt player down to the bench, but Achiuwa had been playing some very inconsistent basketball lately.

Achiuwa is averaging 8.4 rebounds per game, which is tied with Scottie Barnes for the highest per game average on the team. However, Achiuwa’s offense has left a lot to be desired, as he is making just 37% of his shots. A good chunk of his attempts came close to the rim.

Achiuwa being shifted to the bench might make it seem like Nick Nurse is demoting the former Miami Heat first-round draft choice. However, Achiuwa seems to have thrived in his new role, as it appears to have given him a set of marching orders he is more than adept at carrying out.

Achiuwa was scoring 7.4 points per game and making just 33% of his shots as the starting center. In four games off of the bench, Achiuwa has bumped his scoring up to 8.7 points per game while making over 50% of his attempts from the field. Achiuwa is playing much more calmly and controlled off the bench, and it’s helped improve his offense.

Toronto Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa is playing better off the bench.

With an offensive rating of 86 as a starter, Achiuwa was not only one of the worst performers on the team, but one of the worst-performing big men in the sport. He’s done a complete 180 as a bench player, posting a 117 offensive rating in his four games as a bench player.

What makes Achiuwa so frustrating is how he tried to do too much as a starter. How many possessions were ended by Achiuwa turning the ball over in transition, not finding an open player in a passing lane, or taking an ill-advised shot?

Nurse, who told Achiuwa to get in his comfort zone on the court, appears to have simplified his responsibilities. The early returns have been very promising.

Achiuwa might be handling the ball less, but he is proving he can attack the rim on offense and defend multiple positions on defense. He might not be ready to go up against elite centers just yet, but he is capable of providing some palpable energy on both ends as a sub.

Precious Achiuwa has some genuinely rare athletic gifts for a player his size, but he looked like he was trying way too hard to make an impact as a starter. In his new bench role, Achiuwa appears to have found some stability.

Next. NBA Rookie Ladder: Where is Scottie Barnes?. dark