The former Memphis Tiger Precious Achiuwa is another big man who has the potential to mesh well with the current Suns roster.
One of two Memphis big men (along with James Wiseman) to enter the draft, Precious Achiuwa was able to step up in Wiseman’s absence in Memphis to play some strong basketball for the Tigers over the course of the season. Let’s talk about him.
15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.9 blocks
51% two-point percentage, 32% from three-point percentage (13/40), 59% free-throw percentage
A 6-9, 225 pounder, Achiuwa is similar to Onyeka Okongwu (I covered him HERE) in that his athletic ability and fluidity for his size immediately stand out, especially on the defensive end. He can defend multiple positions and makes the absolute most of his length to bring it into play as a rim-deterrent. One thing that impressed was his ability to go straight up and stay vertical, nabbing a ton of blocks without collecting an equivalent number of fouls. A lot of that is owed to his simply massive 7’2 wingspan, which can absolutely swallow up an opponent’s shot window. Add to that a 9’0 feet standing reach and it can become nearly impossible to get easy looks around Achuiwa, especially when he is engaged.
In Memphis, Precious started the season playing a large amount on the perimeter, and he was able to do a decent job in isolation, using the aforementioned wingspan alongside his quick feet to neutralize the opposition. He is active in passing lanes, and with that reach and his long strides, he covers a ton of ground fairly quickly. Later in the year, as he was deployed more in a small-ball center role, he accomplished that in fine fashion, using his strength more in that role to carve out his space in the block and hold up that position defensively.
Achiuwa is also a monster rebounder, finishing 13th in the country at 10.8 rebounds a game, which includes three offensive rebounds a contest. He does a very good job of finding position and boxing out, and that should carry over into the NBA.
Achiuwa’s length and defensive versatility have the opportunity to be used to devastating effect in the NBA.
On the offensive end, Achiuwa again draws comparison to Okongwu in that he is mainly a high motor, rim-rolling big that makes a lot of his money off of the pick and roll. He is also a good cutter in the half-court and uses his athletic ability to mix it up around the glass and pick up second-chance opportunities. Achiuwa’s outside shot isn’t really there, although he will take a jumper, and will even venture out to three-point range (32% on 1.3 three-point attempts, a total of 13/40 on the season). If Achiuwa continues to develop that outside shot in the next level, it will do a lot to extend his offensive versatility.
Speaking of the jump shot, far as things to improve for Precious Achiuwa, a lot of it exists on the offensive side of the ball. Achiuwa took a ton of tough jumpers for someone who isn’t especially adept at converting those attempts. It didn’t help that on more than a few occasions, he was really settling and would have been much better off just putting his head down and attacking the basket with authority. His shot form is also something that needs tweaking, as no three shots seem exactly the same, with a lot of leaning or fading from shot to shot.
A common indicator of shooting success, free-throw shooting, doesn’t paint a pretty picture for Achiuwa as he shot a frigid 59% from the line on an even six attempts a game. Again, a lot of it goes back to the form, which needs to find some consistency to achieve any real success.
On the playmaking side…well, it’s rather non-existent. Achiuwa doesn’t have a natural passing eye and so outside of simple passes that are directly in his line of vision, there simply isn’t any creativity there. Do not expect any passes to the weak side corner off of a strong drive by Precious. It just doesn’t happen at this point.
Though he has a decent handle for a big, with the ability to attack a defender with a quick crossover or a deft change of speed off the dribble, Precious does a majority of his driving to his left, and it won’t take an NBA defense an especially long time to snuff that out, nor will it be especially difficult to do so considering Achiuwa’s lack of off the bounce ability once he gets going. It is definitely a straight-line attack for Precious.
As far as Achiuwa’s possible fit on the Phoenix Suns goes, it is rather positive. As a strong defender, Precious can team up with Deandre Ayton in the starting front line to add some devasting length on the defensive end and can team up on the offensive end as a strong rim-roller to Ayton’s outside game. It is interesting to imagine lineups with Achiuwa as a small-ball five alongside either Kelly Oubre or Cam Johnson alongside Mikal Bridges, Devin Booker, and Ricky Rubio. The sheer amount of defensive versatility on one end and offensive potential on the other is tantalizing.
All in all, Precious Achiuwa is yet another big man in this draft who has some glaring weaknesses, but who also possesses strengths that are tailor-made for the NBA and would work very well with the Phoenix Suns.