The Toronto Raptors had a noteworthy task up on the docket in their final preseason game against the Washington Wizards, as they would have to test their new defense against a high-end microwave scorer like Jordan Poole. Luckily, Precious Achiuwa was up to the challenge.
While it was just the preseason, Toronto likely deployed Achiuwa, fresh off a groin injury, in a role that would be similar to how he would be used in the regular season. The results, perhaps unsurprisingly to the segment of the fanbase that remained bullish on Achiuwa and his potential, were sensational.
Poole finished just 1-15 shooting with seven points in Washington’s humiliation at the hands of the Raptors. Between Achiuwa and OG Anunoby consistently switching out on him, Poole never had a moment to collect himself and get into any sort of rhythm.
Achiuwa was feeling as good as can be after the game, as he is clearly aware of the fact he can be a shutdown defender against just about anyone in this league. Achiuwa correctly asserted that he did a “pretty decent” job against All-Stars and MVPs in the past, and his performance against Poole only reinforced that idea.
Confident Precious Achiuwa will boost the Toronto Raptors’ defense.
While Achiuwa is still a work in progress on the offensive side of the ball, the Raptors are willing to give him every opportunity to figure things out if his defensive excellence manages to shine through. The early returns in a brand-new system have looked solid despite limited action.
Even though the Raptors have many of the same players from Nick Nurse’s old system, Rajakovic has been open about the fact the team won’t be as aggressive on switches as they were in the past. That shouldn’t blunt the effectiveness of Achiuwa in his pivotal fourth season.
While he likely won’t get enough minutes to earn some All-Defensive nominations this year, his value to the team can’t be understated. Achiuwa will match up with Poole in the regular season while also getting some matchups against bigger forwards who can’t handle his athleticism.
Between the rim protection that Jakob Poeltl provides and all the unique ways the chess piece that is Achiuwa can be moved all over the court, a coach like Rajakovic should have the time of his life drawing up unique schemes that can get the most out of both impact players.