Winner: Precious Achiuwa
While the Raptors’ bench looked better than it did in most of their nights under Nurse last season, the second unit ran out of gas late after Gary Trent Jr. finished off an uncharacteristically poor showing. Achiuwa was one of the few who was consistently ripping it up.
Despite a tough matchup against Towns, Gobert, and Naz Reid in the Minnesota Timberwolves, Achiuwa finished with eight points and nine rebounds on 4-9 shooting. With more alley-oop dunks in this game than he had in all of last year, Achiuwa was a man on the mission attacking the basket.
Precious Achiuwa boosted the Toronto Raptors’ bench.
Achiuwa’s defensive skills are well known by this point, and they were a significant factor in Toronto’s sterling defensive effort against Edwards and Minnesota. Even with that, the only way Toronto can feel good about committing to him long-term is if he becomes a reliable presence.
Under Nick Nurse, Achiuwa never seemed to have any sort of structure or recurring role. It seemed like he was a weird mishmash of pick-and-pop big and rim-runner. Rajakovic had him operating as a primary finisher in transition and post-presence against a tremendous interior defense, and the results were phenomenal.