What to make of Precious Achiuwa's DNP vs. Thunder

Imman Adan is joined by Kashtin to provide their thoughts on Precious Achiuwa getting benched against the Thunder in favour of Christian Koloko. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed

Video Transcript

IMMAN ADAN: They have guys that can just step up and step in. Speaking of that, we saw Christian Koloko come back today. That was something that we've been calling for a little bit on here as well. But that's also a major indictment on Precious Achiuwa who didn't get any time tonight. What are your thoughts on that?

KASHTIN: So I'm really pleased to see Christian Koloko back in the rotation. I think there have been a lot of people pointing out, and rightfully so, that having a 7-footer anchoring the backline of the defense has produced pretty incredible results for the defense. So Jakob Poeltl being in that role. Having Christian Koloko, he's obviously not the physically strong defender that Jakob is. He doesn't have the passing vision just yet, the touch, all of those things. That's fair.

IMMAN ADAN: It's Jak and Bam. That's it. No, I'm joking.


KASHTIN: And I think with Precious, he's someone who I think if he finds the flow of a game, if he gets into a rhythm, like, that post-Rising Stars Challenge that he got into form that he got into last season, he was playing an incredible stretch of basketball. But interestingly to me at least, he was playing offensively at least more as a wing.

And I think part of it will be incumbent on the coaching staff to work out how do you fit him into this rotation in a way that maximizes what he can contribute to the team today because I think they do need Christian Koloko out there. I think they need 48 minutes of a high value rim protection.

IMMAN ADAN: An actual center?

KASHTIN: Or at the very least someone who can get up there and intimidate someone. And Koloko, to me, does that really, really well. And I think there's a role for Precious Achiuwa. It's not as though the bench outside of Gary Trent Junior covered themselves in glory today. There were a few bloopers and mishaps here and there.

But I still believe in Precious. I think he's too much of a gifted athlete. He is-- he's done so much in terms of his offensive skill set, and defensively, he just has too much raw potential there to-- and the other thing to remember too is he's a third-year player. And I see something on the timeline a lot where people say, oh, this team isn't developing youth.

You know, Scottie Barnes is a very young player. He is being thrown into the deep end of NBA basketball night in and night out. Christian Koloko is a young player, and out goes Precious, in comes Christian Koloko.

I think if they can really find a way to get Scottie, Christian Koloko, and Precious into the mix all at once, I think they'll be in a really great state planning for the future. And that's what I'd ultimately like them to see, but you have to earn your minutes.

And we've talked about this over the course of the year with Malachi Flynn, with other young players on the roster. Minutes aren't just given to you by your draft position or by your contract. It's a pretty competitive league. 60 new players come into it every year. You got to earn it, so.

IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, I think it's-- to me, it's a ludicrous assertion to say that the Raptors are not developing young talent. Gary Trent Junior is also incredibly young, right? And you know, Oren and I were talking about this on the last pod, which is, he mentioned that in the NBA right now, bench players are incredibly skilled. You just don't have a specific specialist.

And I was like, well, the Raptors kind of just have that on the bench. And 'cause counter which I thought was completely accurate is, what if they're all just incredibly young, and those are guys the Raptors are developing? You would hope to believe that Gary can develop into more of a playmaker than he currently is, right?

You would hope to believe that, like, Precious is just one of-- can be one of the most skilled basketball players if you can put all of it together. And same thing with Gary, these are guys that are incredibly skilled and still incredibly young. And yeah, like, it-- maybe it felt different when you had Pascal and Fred, but they were 22 as rookies.

These guys came into the league at younger ages. And so they're still kind of, like, 23. They're babies. They might have been in the league for a little bit longer, but they're still incredibly young, and that's what the Raptors are doing with the bench.

KASHTIN: I also think it's setting people up for disappointment if you draw a comparison to Pascal.

IMMAN ADAN: Oh, for sure. For sure.

KASHTIN: They're two unprecedented stories in NBA history. Fred VanVleet, an undrafted all-star. It's just, I think it's, what, Ben Wallace and maybe one other player I can think of that's ever done that. And then Pascal Siakam.

IMMAN ADAN: Oh, undrafted. Yeah, yeah. He is the highest paid undrafted player for a reason. It is just not something that happens very often. Pascal Siakam, that's the thing, that was my biggest thing with, like, for years with OG. It's like, you're never going to get the Pascal Siakam story.

And OG is still turning into a pretty fine young player. He was absolutely spectacular tonight. To your point, he's really developed into a three level scorer. It's been a lot of fun to watch him. I just feel like everything's going in for him.

The Raptors have a ton of talent, and they keep developing talent. I think this team is in a good position. They're clearly more talented than their record shows. On any given night, you can sort of expect a fight, if not a win, which is kind of fun.