The Toronto Raptors are placing a ton of responsibility on the very broad shoulders of Precious Achiuwa, as the sign-and-trade jewel has moved from a young player with some potential to an indispensable bench piece after just one season. His improvement was rapid and evident to all.
Achiuwa came to Toronto as a defensive standout who needed offensive refinement, and he left his first season as a stretch big man who is viewed as the team’s best bench asset. The Nigerian-born forward’s strong finish to the season did wonders, as it helped the Raptors in their postseason push.
Toronto has placed a ton of their eggs into his basket, as they’re assuming that his development is not going to stagnate. The Raptors are bullish on Achiuwa, and Precious is going into this season dripping with confidence as he looks to plow through the Eastern Conference.
Achiuwa was quoted in ESPN India as saying he has a “different kind of mindset” heading into his third season following a trip to Nigeria, with his focus being as powerful as it’s ever been. Precious is locked in, which is going to be the catalyst for a season that will be his most pivotal and impactful campaign yet.
Toronto Raptors: Precious Achiuwa is ready to break out.
While Achiuwa started 2021-22 as a defense-first rim-runner who struggled with finishing at the rim, the Memphis alum discovering a 3-point shot after the All-Star break allowed him to be a much more effective player offensively. He averaged 9.1 points per game last year, but jumped to 12.2 points per game after the break.
Achiuwa finding his role on offense had to be quite the relief for this coaching staff. Achiuwa has already shown that he is a bulldog on the defensive side of the ball with the uncommon versatility this organization loves to build their team with, so getting comfortable on offense was necessary.
Nick Nurse himself has been hyping up Achiuwa this offseason. In an appearance on the Hungarian Rapcity Keleten-Nyugaton podcast, Nurse said that Achiuwa had “total focus, total intensity” during the offseason. Matching his post-All-Star break averages should not be too steep of a goal for the 23-year-old dynamo.
The Raptors saw their bench productivity skyrocket when Achiuwa came into his own last year. With Otto Porter Jr. in town and Thad Young having an entire offseason to gel with the team, Toronto will use this bench more than ever before. Achiuwa will be the first man off that bench, a position requiring laser-like focus.