Raptors: 3 goals for birthday boy Precious Achiuwa in 2022-23

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 26: Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 26: Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Raptors took a considerable risk in pulling off the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat, as former first-round pick Precious Achiuwa represents the crown jewel of Masai Ujiri’s return package. Having turned 23 yesterday on September 19, Achiuwa has been viewed as a long-term developmental piece.

In his first few months with the Raptors, one would be very hard-pressed to describe him as a player that was going to be worth anything in Toronto’s postseason run. That all changed after the All-Star break, as Achiuwa was much more willing to let it rip from 3-point range.

Achiuwa is going into the season with the expectation that he is going to be one of the first men off the bench in a pivotal year for Toronto. He may be kicking off his third season, but Toronto still expects more improvement from him on both ends of the floor.

The Raptors need to ensure Achiuwa hits these three milestones at some point in the 2022-23 season. More than just an exciting player to fool around with, Achiuwa has quickly become someone that the Raptors are willing to instill in their long-term rotation plan.

3 goals Precious Achiuwa needs to reach for the Toronto Raptors.

3. Average one steal or block per game.

Achiuwa was going to use his defense to muscle his way into the rotation early in his career, as his ability to stick on the perimeter as a 6-8 forward is genuinely impressive. He doesn’t lack confidence in his defensive ability, and his next step forward in that area might be in the turnover department.

Achiuwa averaged 0.5 steals and 0.6 blocks per game, though he could easily pump those numbers up in a Raptors offense that requires active hands. Achiuwa recorded multiple steals in five games last year and multiple blocks (punctuated by a career-best four against Boston) in nine games.

Precious Achiuwa can get even better on defense.

Achiuwa has already defended names like LeBron James and Nikola Jokic with some level of aplomb, though the key to becoming genuinely elite starts with his ability to protect the rim. Nurse is asking a lot of him in terms of switching so frequently, but he wouldn’t put this on his plate if he didn’t think Precious could do it.

Achiuwa has shown that he can be a turnover generator if you catch him on the right day. With Gary Trent Jr. adding the ability to deflect and steal passes to his repertoire, Achiuwa is more than capable of becoming Nurse’s next impact pet project.