After a successful trial in the All-Star Game, should the NBA adopt the Elam Ending in more meaningful games?

Precious Achiuwa gets the center stage of today’s NBA draft target. This 6’9 native of Queens, New York has some of the most impressive tools in the draft. What are Achiuwa’s strengths and weaknesses? How does his skillset project in the NBA? Let’s take a look.

OVERVIEW

According to 247Sports, Precious Achiuwa was a 5-star recruit and a member of Memphis’ massive recruiting class that included James Wiseman and Lester Quinones. He was the 9th best prospect in his class. Achiuwa went to St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey before playing his final season at Montverde Academy. Achiuwa was a star on the recruiting trail, posting 15 and 11 in the Nike Hoops Summit and 22 and 9 during the McDonald’s All-American Game.

Achiuwa joined former St. Benedict’s Prep teammate Lester Quinones by signing with Memphis in May 2018. It wasn’t the magical season that Memphis had hoped. The Tigers finished 5th in the American Conference (21-10), James Wiseman only played 3 games and Lester Quinones struggled with inconsistency from the perimeter.

Despite all of that, Achiuwa put together a fantastic freshman season.

Precious Achiuwa averaged 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Achiuwa had double-doubles in 20 of the last 21 games. Beyond the box score, he was the most consistent player on a team with high expectations. Achiuwa’s impressive freshman campaign garnered him multiple accolades, including AAC Player of the Year, All-Freshman Team, Rookie of the Year and 1st Team All-AAC.

STRENGTHS

  • Physical Tools: Standing at 6’9 with a 225-pound frame, Precious Achiuwa has some of the more impressive measurables in this year’s class. His 7’2 wingspan and 9’ standing reach revolves nicely around his nimble quick feet. Achiuwa’s is an extremely active player which is evident by his dominance on the glass. Achiuwa’s 18.6% rebounding percentage was first and his 11.4% offensive rebounding percentage was second in the conference. His high motor and ability to dominate the offensive glass is a clear path for early playing time at the next level.
  • Defensive Potential: Precious Achiuwa’s quick feet make him an intriguing prospect at the next level. Achiuwa is a versatile defender who played the 5 spot for Memphis out of necessity and thrived. His 82.5 defensive rating and 2.9 defensive win shares were first in the conference. This is a player who can also protect the rim. Precious Achiuwa’s 6.4% block percentage was third in the conference. In today’s switch-heavy league, players who can protect the rim, defend multiple positions and switch on the perimeter will always have a place on an NBA roster.

WEAKNESSES

  • Shooting: Precious Achiuwa’s shooting needs work and his ability to space the floor is a major question mark. Achiuwa shot 32.5% from 3 on 1.3 attempts per game while shooting 59.9% from the free throw line on 6 attempts per game. This is not a prospect you want facilitating the offense due to his lack of feel for the game. He shot 27.8% on jump shots, doesn’t finish well enough at the rim and struggles with shot selection. In the catch and shoot, he shot 1/18. He was often seen settling for too many contested shots. Achiuwa needs to learn how to impact the offense without the ball in his hands at the next level.
  • Turnover Prone: This one needs to be further explained. It’s hard to knock a freshman for being turnover prone but it needs to be noted. Achiuwa was thrown into the 5 spot when James Wiseman left the Memphis Tigers after playing only 3 games. Achiuwa should be commended for stepping up admirably and leading his team, but his lack of ball skills were highly pronounced. He had 87 turnovers compared to 30 assists on the season. Memphis was 17th in team turnovers per possession (21.8%) and 18th worst in turnovers per offensive play (19.5%).

FILM HIGHLIGHT

Precious Achiuwa is a guy who plays above the rim. According to The Stepien, 61% of his offense came inside the paint at Memphis.
Precious Achiuwa’s defense shined during his one year stint at Memphis. Achiuwa was the key cog on one of college basketball’s best defensive teams. Memphis had the 2nd best defensive efficiency rating (0.86) in college basketball this season.
Precious Achiuwa took full advantage of his athleticism on defense. Despite having poor footwork and frequent lapses on defense, Achiuwa’s biggest sell as a prospect is his defensive versatility. Achiuwa’s ceiling as an NBA defender could potentially make him a lottery selection in this year’s draft.
Due to offensive limitations, plays like this will be Precious Achiuwa’s bread and butter early on at the next level. While his handle needs further seasoning, Achiuwa is a weapon in the open court and would have significant value on an NBA team that likes to push the pace and play small.
Here is another example of what Precious Achiuwa can bring to an NBA team. Impacting the game without the ball in his hands is the quickest path to getting NBA minutes for Precious Achiuwa. The good news? He was second in the American Conference in cut scoring at 3.2 points per game. The bad news? Achiuwa’s feel for the game and inability to get others involved on offense is a major concern at the next level.
Precious Achiuwa’s stroke is the biggest barrier to being a lottery selection in this year’s draft. Mechanics aren’t terrible, but showing NBA teams that he can develop into a reliable NBA shooter is everything.
Regardless of his offensive deficiencies, this is what you’re getting from Precious Achiuwa. A 6’9 versatile defender who moves extremely well laterally. He needs to learn better defensive technique, but the potential here is through the roof.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While Achiuwa’s measurables make him a clear fit in the modern NBA where small ball is paramount, his lack of shooting will most likely force him to be a small-ball 5 at the next level. However, how valuable can a small-ball 5, one that will be 21 years old at the time of the draft, be who struggles to shoot? There are players like this littered across today’s G League. On the surface, selecting a role player in the lottery does not seem to be very advisable.

I don’t see Precious Achiuwa as a potential lottery selection at all. I expect Precious Achiuwa to fall to the second half of the first round and perhaps to the top of the second round.

How much Achiuwa can impact the game without the ball in his hands will dictate how high his ceiling can be at the next level. The good news? His 23.3 player efficiency rating and 51.1% effective field goal percentage was 2nd in the conference. The talent and motor are obviously there. He’s certainly shown flashes of being a very good pick and roll defender. Achiuwa’s quickest path to making an instant impact in the NBA is by gaining strength and defending multiple positions off the bench.

Achiuwa clearly needs to go to a team who tends to play high tempo, small ball. Achiuwa’s bread and butter in the league, at least initially, will be getting buckets in transition, playing off ball and crashing the offensive glass. Beyond that, Achiuwa is an inconsistent shooter and doesn’t do well at getting others involved. This is a guy who clearly requires further seasoning at the next level.

BEST FITS

Boston Celtics

It is no secret that the Boston Celtics need to improve their rebounding and adding an athletic big seems appropriate. The Celtics love versatility and possess one of the top small ball units in the entire NBA. Given the amount of shot takers the Celtics have in Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward, Precious Achiuwa has a very easy lane to making an impact. The Celtics have two late first round picks, which makes them a very good fit.

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks need to start adding depth and adding a versatile defender would be a very good option. The Mavs were among the bottom half of the league in terms of defensive efficiency this season. A big who can defend the 3-5 spots and increase the size and defensive versatility of the Mavericks makes him an ideal fit. The Mavs have the top pick in the second round of the draft. If Achiuwa falls to that spot, the Mavs would have a home run draft on their hands.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The T-wolves have offensive firepower in KAT and D’Angelo Russel. They lack depth and defensive versatility in their front court. They were among the bottom of the league in total rebound percentage. Adding a guy who can defend multiple positions alongside Karl Anthony Towns makes Achiuwa a very good fit. The Mavs have the 17th pick in the first and the 33rd pick in the second round. This is perfect range to select Precious Achiuwa.

You can find the rest of our draft evaluations below!