Precious Achiuwa is making the Raptors a lot better
Amit Mann looks at how Precious Achiuwa has improved on offence and is remedying some of the Raptors' defensive and rotation issues.
AMIT MANN: It's really good to have Precious Achiuwa back. And I guarantee you, his teammates and the Raptors coaching staff would echo that as well, because he brings an intangibles, skill, role acceptance, and defense that the Raptors have sorely missed.
FRED VANVLEET: We love Precious.
AMIT MANN: So let's talk about it. But before we do that, I got to get you to subscribe to our YouTube channel and me, my goodness, if you haven't done it already do you know what you're missing? We've got a show with former Raptor CJ Miles. We've got a show with current Raptor Chris Boucher. We do video breakdowns. We are covering all the day-to-day analysis with the Toronto Raptors. So if you haven't done it already, please do so now.
Precious has a menacing presence. What he lacks in height he makes up for with spatial awareness, athleticism, explosion, and intimidation. Look how he just shoves Jericho Sims here. Why? To let him know he sees him. As an anchor on defense you want to make the offense feel you. They want to know your aura. You want them to think about you when they're driving to the basket. They should see you check in and be like, damn, I wanted a few more minutes without him on the court.
Look how much ground he covers in this possession. Teams are shooting 5.5% worse at the rim when Precious is on the floor this season. That is second to Only Christian Koloko, who is at 6%. He has tremendous first and second jumping ability, brings intelligent help with length, and can rapidly swallow up space on drivers. Not to mention defensive versatility, which allows the Raptors to deploy him in all kinds of different lineups and switch him onto guards on the perimeter. He can and will guard the other team's best player, play the five in various different drop schemes, or zone up and wall off the paint as the low man.
FRED VANVLEET: We love Precious.
AMIT MANN: On what's supposed to be a defense-first team, he provides options for a coach. And that becomes even clearer on offense, where he's striking a better balance between pursuing his own scoring, which he should do, and helping the Raptors get better half court possessions. Over his last seven games, precious is averaging 28 minutes, 13.7 rebounds, 70% from the line, 39% from 3, and a true shooting percentage of 60%.
And it wasn't always like that. We all remember the Precious experience last season. Sometimes he made good decisions. Other times, not so much. But those correct instincts take time to form. And while there is room for improvement, compared to last season, Precious is making the extra pass at a higher clip while continuing to expand as a play finisher, on plays off the catch, off-ball cuts, and ISO transition chances.
It's not just a shoot-then-pass mentality. Achiuwa is reacting to who's closing out to him. How much space is between the first and second line of defense? Is there anyone stopping me from a single line drive to the rim, and more. The Raptors are running more pick-and-roll and that's helping him further weaponize his skill set. He's growing as a roller and finisher at the rim, and of course, is still a pop threat.
He's also been a great rebounder on both sides of the ball. The Raptors need rule acceptance like that to help their halfcourt scoring, their ball movement and their defense. Precious is providing Nick Nurse an outlet outside of his five starters. His nimble game is going to transition to a lot of different lineups, is going to help keep a few starter minutes down, and it's going to boost bench production, which has been a sour spot for the Raptors all season.
It's great to have Precious Achiuwa back in the lineup. My name is Amit Mann. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and we'll talk to you soon.
FRED VANVLEET: We love precious.