Hornets NBA NBA Draft

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Precious Achiuwa

I’ve seen a lot of people buzzing about Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa, so I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Let’s dive into his strengths and weaknesses and see if he actually makes sense in the lottery for the Hornets.

Precious Achiuwa, Memphis, F/C, 6’9, 225, 7-2.5 wingspan

Offense

After watching the tape, I’m much more intrigued by Achiuwa’s defensive potential but I think it is still important to dive in to what he can do on the offensive end. This past year with Memphis, he was very productive and averaged 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds a game and was the AAC’s player and rookie of the year. However, there’s only a couple of offensive skills that I’m interested in for his projection to the NBA: his offensive rebounding, shooting ability, and ability to attack closeouts.

At Memphis, Precious was a very effective offensive rebounder, grabbing three a game (11.4 ORB %). With his good timing and jumping ability, Precious was able to create extra possessions for his team. This has value and is one of the avenues that Achiuwa can provide a positive impact on the offensive end.

The big question with Achiuwa though and what will ultimately decide whether he can be positive on the offensive end is if he is able to shoot from distance. His college numbers provide a mixed bag as he shot 32.5% from 3 this past year on a little over one attempt a game. This is decent enough for a big who is growing as a shooter but his FT numbers are abysmal (59.9% on about six attempts a game). FT% has often been a good indicator for players that can shoot in the NBA so that leads to some caution but it isn’t the end all be all. Achiuwa’s form isn’t bad:

I’m not a shot doctor but I think with some tweaking he is a good bet to be able to shoot corner 3s at least and maybe some above the break. If he can become capable at above the break 3s, he can provide value as a pick and pop big. But again, I think he can serve as a spacer at the corners and with his quick first step, he should be able to attack closeouts:

Against 4s and 5s, Precious should be able to utilize his quick first step to get good angles to the basket and finish. If he’s able to shoot and be a threat, that’ll only make it easier for him as a driver and he can provide value as a catch and shoot or catch and go guy in the offensive end.

Other than that, I don’t see any other avenues for offensive value for Achiuwa. I’ve seen comps for him as Bam Adebayo or Pascal Siakam and I just don’t see it. I don’t see the passing ability/decision-making ability of a Bam or the ability to self-create like Siakam.

You just don’t want Precious making decisions on the court in my opinion. He only averaged one assist compared to almost three turnovers a game. He just isn’t a good decision maker:

I don’t see him being good as a short roll guy at all. He just doesn’t have good vision. In addition, his shot IQ is low and he doesn’t show a good ability to self-create:

He’s not the type of guy to create on his own (21.2% on two point jumpers this year):

This isn’t to hate on Precious. He can still make a positive impact on the floor. It’s okay to not be Pascal Siakam or Bam Adebayo. If Precious can fix his shot and shoot 35-37% from three on a decent enough volume he will be fine on the offensive end.

Defense

This is where the intrigue comes from for Precious. He’s a versatile defender who should be able to switch between the 4 and the 5. I think he’s a 4 in the NBA and don’t think he can anchor a whole defense but he should be able to play the 5 for stretches which gives him more value than if he was just a straight 4 or 5.

I’m really interested in Achiuwa’s weak side rim protection at the 4 position. He shows pretty good awareness and is able to utilize his length to get blocks and steals:

Precious is able to cover a lot of ground on the defensive end and his wingspan allows him to get his hand on balls that others may not be able to. This is just an awesome play here:

In addition to his rim protection ability, Achiuwa has shown some capability to be a good switch defender:

Achiuwa can be vulnerable sometimes as he gets shook here:

So I wouldn’t call him a Bam level switch defender but I think he’s definitely more than capable to switch and should be pretty good in that area.

With his versatility as a rim protector and a switch guy, I think Precious can be capably play both the 4 and 5 positions and should be a high level defender.

The majority of Achiuwa’s value in the NBA will come from his defensive versatility and I think he can really help a team on that end as he learns and gets more polish as a defender. How good he can be as an overall player in my opinion is if he shoots it. If he can, he provide value as a spacer and from attacking closeouts. I see him as a theoretical 3 and D big that would be amazing to have as a third big and probably should be able to be a starter.

I think the Hornets are picking too high though for a guy like Achiuwa. He is a first rounder in my opinion but not really a lottery level talent. And that’s totally fine. I think he will be a impactful player but I’d rather take a chance on a higher upside guy or get a guy that plays a more premium position.

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