Knicks Prospect Breakdown: Precious Achiuwa

Kris Pursiainen

My 2020 NBA Draft Profiles:

Guards: Cole Anthony, Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Maxey, Kira Lewis Jr.

Wings: Deni Avdija, Devin Vassell, Isaac Okoro, Aaron Nesmith, Josh Green, Saddiq Bey

Bigs: Onyeka Okongwu, Obi Toppin, James Wiseman, Aleksej Pokuševski, Precious Achiuwa

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Precious Achiuwa is a big man from the University of Memphis. He will be entering the NBA Draft after one season at Memphis, during which he he put up averages of 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Achiuwa did this while maintaining a 49.3 FG%, despite shooting only 32.5% from behind the three point line (1.3 attempts per game - low volume). 

A 6'9", 225 pound energetic big man is bound to draw comparisons to Montrezl Harrell of the Clippers - who uses his 6'8", 240 pound frame similarly. Harrell does have a longer wingspan - one of 7'4" in length - but Achiuwa's measurement of 7'2" in that department isn't too far off. 

Achiuwa has displayed the potential to become a rim-running big man with pick and roll finishing ability on offense, and an athletic and versatile defender. In the P&R, Achiuwa knows how to intelligently position himself to catch the ball and get a shot up with his athleticism, as well as possesses the ball handling ability necessary to get to the basket on his own if the pass lands outside of the paint. In transition, Achiuwa is capable of grabbing the rebound and pushing the ball up the court himself before needing to defer to a guard or wing up ahead. 

Some of Achiuwa's biggest issues come from his tendency to turn the ball over - either due to a lack of an ability to quickly make a decision, or simply just making poor decisions on the court. I've noticed Precious struggle with reading a defensive coverage to an extent where the play didn't end up with him forcing an unadvisable shot or accidentally sending himself, the ball, or both into a multitude of defenders in the paint. His inability to shoot also hurts his draft stock - and his 59.9% free throw percentage prevents it from being explained as a form that needs more time to develop. 

Achiuwa does show promise as a defender due to his athletic ability - his speed, especially - but he finds himself rather inconsistent on that end of the floor in terms of his fundamentals and effort level. Ball-handling big men will likely not struggle to get by Achiuwa, despite his physical tools helping him nip those situations in the bud, because of his, at-times, questionable footwork and level of discipline on D. 

With the aspects of his game that he struggles with tightened up a bit by an NBA coach and training staff, I project Achiuwa to at the least positively impact a team as their backup center - a role well-fit for him considering the trend towards "small ball". The inconsistencies in his game will inhibit him from being selected early on in the draft, but a team with a pick in the late lottery, or late-teens, might be able to grab themselves a real contributor. 

The Knicks do not possess a draft pick in that range, but they do have a late first-rounder, acquired from the Clippers in the Marcus Morris deal, and a second rounder, from Charlotte in the Hernangomez trade. If the team was truly sold on Achiuwa's potential to contribute to a contending squad as a cost-controlled big man, or his future value as a trade asset, they might package those picks - as well as whatever other assets are needed depending on who their trade partner is - to move up and select him. The holes in Precious's game lead me to say that I would advise against such a move, as I would rather the team move up for a propsect like Aleksej Pokuševski with higher upside. If Walt Perrin, Leon Rose, and Co. believe in Achiuwa's potential, however, I wouldn't blame them for the move.

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