3 pleasant surprises on Raptors roster as home stretch begins

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The Toronto Raptors have a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since December 9, as the recent acquisition of Jakob Poeltl has given their defense the shot in the arm that they needed so desperately. However, the full body of work on the season has been less than impressive.

The Raptors decided to run back essentially the same team from last season, but their continuity has not always translated to victories. Between some lackluster rim protection and an inability to be consistently effective from 3-point range, Toronto hasn’t been as effective on both ends as last year, when they caught teams by surprise.

While this season has been overwhelmingly negative for Raptors fans, the recent burst of solid play has made Toronto fans slightly more optimistic about the team’s current roster and future direction. This roster hasn’t been without a handful of exceptional players.

This trio of Raptors have made improvements in their game and appear to be much more complete players than they were last year. Sustaining this play will be imperative for them if they want to make good on their goal to escape the play-in tournament.

3 pleasant surprises on the Toronto Raptors roster

3. Precious Achiuwa

Achiuwa can be a frustrating study at times, as he’ll alternate between Chris Bosh and Bruno Caboclo with frightening frequency. Luckily for Toronto, they’ve seen way more of the good Achiuwa lately, both as a spot starter and the first man off the bench.

Achiuwa is averaging 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season. However, he has upped those averages to 12.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game on 54% shooting since January 10. In 21 games since that date, Achiuwa has recorded seven double-doubles and shot 33% from 3-point range.

Precious Achiuwa is improving for the Toronto Raptors.

The defensive gifts were always apparent for Achiuwa, but he was never going to be a key role player for a championship team until he improved his finishing around the basket. If Toronto can get 54% efficiency out of him while watching him take steps forward as a shooter, it’ll be hard to find too many faults in his game.

While Toronto will almost assuredly try to find more bench players that improve the overall depth, Achiuwa taking a step forward has instilled in the club a belief that he can be a significant part of the roster going forward. Achiuwa may truly step on the gas in Year 4.

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