Nick Nurse sends message to Precious Achiuwa after benching
Even after three years in the NBA and two seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Precious Achiuwa remains one of the most maddening players in the league to watch. While he is a quality defender and rebounder, he is also liable to play like Freddie Gillespie on any given night.
Achiuwa went through a stretch where he was consistently averaging a double-double as a spot starter, but he has looked completely dazed and confused since being moved back to the bench. Nick Nurse is not going to tolerate such inept play, and he dropped the hammer in a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Achiuwa did not play at all against OKC, as Nick Nurse continued to roll with veteran Will Barton while inserting rookie center Christian Koloko back into the rotation behind Jakob Poeltl. Nurse’s postgame comments hint that he sounds pleased with how the team played without Precious.
Nurse said that it “bodes well” for the Raptors to have one of either Poeltl or Koloko on the floor from a defensive point of view. Considering how Achiuwa’s best trait at this point is his defense, that has to be a bit of a gut punch for him. Nurse mentioned getting him some minutes at the 4-spot, but he is clearly behind Chris Boucher in the pecking order.
Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse benched Precious Achiuwa.
Achiuwa hasn’t scored more than 10 points in a game (a figure he only reached once) since before the All-Star break. He has averaged just 4.0 points per game in the month of March, showing that the flashes of offensive brilliance he showed have not been sustained.
For all his faults, Koloko has shown to be a solid defensive center in his first year in the pros. With the squad performing much better with a traditional center on the floor instead of trying to squeeze a player like Achiuwa into the mix, Nurse may decide to make this a permanent change.
Nurse decided to send messages like this is nothing new, as Boucher was performing so poorly last season that he was basically out of the rotation for a week. He responded well enough to that demotion, however, to start a hot streak in the postseason and secure a three-year contract in the offseason.
No one is doubting that Achiuwa is a solid player or someone that fits what Toronto wants to do schematically. The doubts about his long-term viability stem from the fact that many will deem him too inconsistent. It is incumbent on him to flip the script.