A few years ago, Miami Heat rookie Precious Achiuwa was admiring Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid from afar as a teenager.
On Thursday, he will be in the starting lineup against Embiid for a second straight game. With the Heat once again without several players because of COVID-19, Achiuwa is gaining valuable experience against one of the league's top centers.
"I haven't really played that good, especially at this level," Achiuwa said. "Just every day constantly learning the game, just constantly understanding and learning guys strengths and weaknesses."
Achiuwa finished with a career-high 17 points and 13 rebounds in place of Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo, who is among the team's ailing players. Embiid had 45 points and 16 rebounds.
Still, it was a learning lesson for Achiuwa, who the Heat chose at No. 20 in the NBA draft.
“Even though he has been playing, we also want to have a little bit of perspective that it’s not easy to jump into this season, in particular without a summer league and a normal summer ramp-up,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So we’ve been more focused not on just his play during games, but more the development behind the scenes and he has been very committed to that. He’s a worker, he’s diligent, he picks up things quickly and that’s just an every day process."
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