Precious Achiuwa honing in on role could be a game-changer for Raptors

After a season in which he got permission to experiment, Precious Achiuwa enters his second campaign with the Raptors with a chance to be the NBA's Most Improved Player if he's a consistent impact player off the bench. Full podcast looking at most improved candidates and game-changing skill additions is on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed and on our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

KATIE HEINDL: For me, number one is probably Precious Achiuwa.

AMIT MANN: Really?

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, I think because Precious-- twofold. You know, you obviously, like, you're in the league still. But based on this kind of, like-- I do feel like he got his first season last season with the Raptors. Not to discount his Heat season, that rookie year, but he really didn't get much play. And that's pretty evident, obviously, when you look at his stats.

And I'm making that caveat because when I say this stat, it's like someone who went from a 0% 3-point percentage by virtue of the fact that he just didn't make any 3-point shots all season to last season with the Raptors to a pretty respectable I think--


KATIE HEINDL: --like, 34? 34, like, yeah, between like 34 and 38. I think that's a pretty nice jump for someone who just didn't even have-- it's not even that he didn't have the skill set. He didn't even necessarily have the muscle memory, right? Those weren't shots he was even used to taking. And he found himself taking those with the Raptors, obviously.

His other stats are pretty nice things to write home about, just the fact that he became such a versatile, I think, piece for the Raptors after struggling a little bit. And he admitted, too, he's like, I'm learning a lot of stuff all at once. I kind of don't know how to prioritize what and what the team needs of me. But we saw him put that all together toward the end of the season. Super instrumental, I think, athlete in the playoffs in the Raptors' postseason, as short-lived as it may have been for fans.


KATIE HEINDL: And then, I think when you think of that leap that he made, just by virtue of getting some steady minutes and working within a system that's there to sort of foster that versatility, I think going into this coming season, he's probably gonna just take another leap like that, just by, again, a steady state of working, not because he's gonna, like-- it would be wonderful if some real magic things kind of clicked for him.

But just the regular stuff I think clicking to him-- for him, rather, is gonna put him up at the top of my list.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, that's a great pick. I think with someone like him, you want to see what we saw at the tail end of last season continue. That would be one of the bigger things for myself.

I saw that, in the month of March, he shot 39% from 3 on four attempts. And the 3-point percentage was steadily growing throughout 2022, but he wasn't necessarily taking four attempts per game in February, in January. It was more like one or two. But he was hitting them.

But then he was given the power to take on more of those attempts and to be that corner 3-point shooter, to be a bit more of a pick-and-pop option for the Raptors. And, obviously, they could use all the spacing in the world. So I would love to see him continue to do that.

And also, I mean, last season, it was a bit of a fun season, I think. They allowed him to just go out there and play and try some things and learn on the fly. This season, it would be cool to see him understand his role a little bit better. So that means taking smarter shots, going isolation in more of a transition style rather than doing it in the halfcourt offense, because there's just more space. He's gonna be in a better position to actually score. And then offensive rebounding, that has to be there.

And then defensively, I mean, he could be the most impactful defender on the Raptors, right, if he is the person that is gonna be taking on the most-- the hardest defensive matchup. He said he wants to be that guy. And, I mean, the job he did against Joel Embiid-- Joel is a load for anyone, but I mean, he did a pretty decent job. And he actually made Joel work on the defensive end, too.

So certainly a piece that you think about, maybe, if last season was, like, his true rookie year, he's heading into his sophomore year. How cool is that that we already saw such amazing glimpses from him this early when he's, like, what, 22, 23? Terrific pick. Love him. Maybe he becomes a lob threat. Wouldn't that be fun?

KATIE HEINDL: He could, honestly.


KATIE HEINDL: I think that he's in such a great position just because the sky's the limit in the way that we just haven't really seen his full potential yet. And I think maybe he doesn't even know what it is because this is a real testament to, like, what happens when you put an athlete like this in a position to really succeed.