What was supposed to be the night of the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery came and went Tuesday evening as COVID-19 continues to leave a lasting impact all around the sports world. The Spurs were probably due for a late lottery pick unless the ping pong balls rolled in their favor, though the fanbase will have to wait for the truth until a later date.
Yesterday would have marked San Antonio’s FOURTH trip to the lottery since its inception in 1985 and their first encounter with the mysterious mixing chamber since they drafted Tim Duncan first overall in 1997. The chances the savior of the organization is waiting for them in the early teens are slim to none, but every building block is vital when you’re fighting your way back into contention.
Precious Achiuwa | Memphis | Freshman | Power Forward |
Weight: 225 lbs
2020 Stats (31 GP)
Per Game: 15.8 PPG/10.8 RPG/1.0 APG/1.1 SPG/1.9 BPG
Per 36: 18.7 PPG/12.8 RPG/1.1 APG/1.3 SPG/2.2BPG
Shooting Splits: .493 FG%/.325 3P%/.599 FT%
Precious Achiuwa is a somewhat raw offensive prospect who relies upon explosive athleticism and a strong build to power through smaller defenders. Though the freshman phenom is lacking in the fundamentals department, the potential to develop into a mismatch nightmare has likely secured his sure-fire first-round status.
As of now, Achiuwa would best fill the role of an energetic pick-and-roll rim-running big. His extraordinary motor, timing, and nose for boards led to an impressive 3.0 offensive rebounds per game, and uncommon mobility for a player his size yielded several easy fastbreak buckets night in and night out.
While most of his points came in the paint during his lone season at Memphis, he struggled to convert in traffic, showed little touch around the rim, seldom displayed advanced post footwork, and revealed a dependency on two-footed takeoffs to maximize burst. Precious also committed several charges in an attempt to bully his way to the basket, and his one-handedness compounded on a tendency to misfire on relatively simple finishes.
Achiuwa frequently settled for low percentage looks when unable to blow by defenders, and his tunnel vision coupled with overall inaccurate passing squandered opportunities for open teammates. Despite inconsistent results, the bruising big man’s shot mechanics were fairly smooth and consistent, suggesting room for growth as a stand-still spot-up shooter down the road.
Despite many flaws on this end, it’s difficult to overlook his quick first step, ball-handling, and efficiency on straight-line drives as a natural power forward. Precious is prone to losing the ball when picking up speed or stringing together dribble moves, though reduced responsibilities, an improved jumper, and refined handles will go a long way at the next level.
San Antonio was undoubtedly one of the worst defenses in the league this season, and searching out solid point stoppers to plug the holes should be a top priority. While the Spurs roster a handful of intriguing two-way talents, adding another dynamic athlete to the mix wouldn’t hurt their pursuit of restoring their once-feared defense.
Precious is among the better defenders in the 2020 Draft Class, and his versatility to guard multiple positions sets him apart from other big men in the pool. As discussed earlier, his motor is unrelenting, and effort alone can help Achiuwa stay in plays and recover for seemingly improbable blocks and steals.
Achiuwa is a solid team, help, and pick-and-roll defender who rotates well in the paint to stop drives and cutters, and while occasionally late on close-outs, he makes up for it with speed and a seven-two wingspan. Although he loses his man from time to time, he mostly avoids ball-watching and seems aware of his surroundings on the defensive end.
Precious has untapped potential as an elite rim protector, where his frame, length, and vertical pop should complement his recognition as it progresses. His body control is outstanding, and where others might foul, Achiuwa possesses the coordination and core strength to pull off a clean contest. Furthermore, his NBA ready body has the bulk to absorb contact without being displaced.
Active hands, quick feet, and fluid hips may allow the 20-year-old forward to defend down a few spots in isolation scenarios, but he must take smarter angles, and learn better positioning and footwork if he wants to optimize his tools. Achiuwa is more instinctual than cerebral at this point in his career, so his drive and attention to detail will determine how dangerous he can become.
Player Comparison: Montrezl Harrell/Gerald Wallace
Professional comparisons for collegiate players are often unrealistic, and when it comes to Precious Achiuwa, a singular parallel doesn’t do his unique upside any justice. With that in mind, while the AAC Player of the Year is unquestionably a high-risk high-reward prospect, he could resemble shades of Montrezl Harrell and Gerald Wallace when it’s all said and done.
Achiuwa is larger than Wallace, yet there’s no denying his explosiveness, defensive switchability, and shooting potential are reminiscent of the one-time All-Star. On the other hand, his length, power, and pick-and-roll prowess make it easy to envision him sliding right into a Montrezlesque role. The physical gifts are in place for Precious, but whoever drafts him is realistically looking at a project player rather than an immediate contributor.
The promising forward is one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2020 Draft Class, and deciphering where he lands is about as easy as throwing a bullseye with a blindfold on. Some view Achiuwa as lottery-lock while others perceive his red flags as a risk worth only a late-first-round investment. I wouldn’t risk a top pick on Precious Achiuwa, but with the Spurs’ renowned developmental staff and an absence of major injury history, San Antonio could be the right team to sharpen his skills.
To check out more potential 2020 draft targets, click here.