The Trail Blazers’ 2019-20 season is firmly in the rearview mirror and 2020 NBA Draft is now on the horizon. As of now, the draft is scheduled for November 18. Unlike last year, the Blazers enter the process with two picks at their disposal. Portland currently owns the No. 16 pick in the first round and the No. 46 pick in the second round.
Today’s draft profile looks at energetic big man Precious Achiuwa. The former Memphis forward should fall into the late-lottery range on draft night.
- Height: 6’9”
- Weight: 225
- Wingspan: 7’2”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: PF
- Age: 20
- Projected draft range: 11-16
- PTS: 15.8 | Per 40: 20.7
- REB: 10.8 | Per 40: 14.2
- BLK: 1.9 | Per 40: 2.5
- STL: 1.1 | Per 40: 1.4
- FG%: 49.3
- FT%: 59.9
In an era that features several dynamic pick-and-roll tandems, Achiuwa fits the profile of a player that could flourish as a rim-running finisher. Buoyed by his length, athleticism and powerful dunks at the rim; the 20-year-old big fella has all the tools to create high-percentage shots. Achiuwa’s proficiency in the pick and roll is built on more than turning and running downhill. He does an excellent job of sealing off opponents with his screens before transitioning to the next move. That characteristic should pay massive dividends at the next level if he is paired with a facilitator that can punish defenders from beyond the arc. In transition, Achiuwa effortlessly covers the length of the floor in an attempt to create easy looks on the break.
Defensively, Achiuwa is an exciting help-side shot blocker that reloads between jumps effortlessly. When he isn’t around the rim, the former Tigers standout has shown that he can hold his ground in space against multiple positions. On the boards, Achiuwa’s relentless motor is on full display. He consistently outworks opponents for rebounds on both ends of the floor.
Achiuwa’s upside his built on his natural ability in several key areas. The concerns that surround his game are largely connected to his lack of polish. Inside halfcourt sets, Achiuwa runs the risk of becoming a non factor—unless he is directly involved with a pick-and-roll action. Plagued by shot attempts that too often involve contact and traffic, Achiuwa’s efficiency is surprisingly low for an athletic rim-runner at the college level. While his upside as a pick-and-roll finisher is exciting, he does not possess the skills to create opportunities for others off a short roll. Inside the arc, Achiuwa rarely displayed traditional back-to-the-basket or face-up post moves during his time at Memphis.
Outside of the offensive concerns, Achiuwa must refine his footwork to remain a factor on defense. His athleticism covered for wasted movements at the college level. In the NBA, Achiuwa runs the risk of being a whistle magnet. Along with foul concerns, he could find himself a step behind plays that unfold in the paint.
Billed as James Wiseman’s frontcourt running mate at Memphis prior to the season, Achiuwa quickly found himself as the lone star in the Tigers’ big man rotation. That extra attention did not slow down the New York native. Starting in late December, Achuiwa put together a run of six straight double-double performances. The Tigers finished with a solid, but unspectacular, 21-10 record.
Individually, Achiuwa earned a plethora of recognition once his freshman year concluded. He earned AAC Player of the Year and AAC Rookie of the Year honors. Statistically, he led the conference in rebounds and finished third in blocks.
The problem areas in Achiuwa’s game appear to be correctable on the surface. His footwork and feel for the game as a passer should improve with experience—if he is coupled with a competent coaching staff. Offensively, Achiuwa’s subpar free throw percentage suggests that there is a firm cap on his upside as a shooter. Versatile defenders that can also get downhill on offense have a place in the NBA, but Achiuwa’s profile might align a little too close to the reserve big man archetype for most teams selecting in the middle of the first round.
Before you get carried away with Achiuwa’s shooting numbers, it is important to note his athleticism. The Blazers, outside of a trio of youngsters, lack the game-changing presence that elite teams possess in the frontcourt. Achiuwa has the potential to blossom into a player that can overpower opponents at the rim and frustrate opposing coaches. That said, Achiuwa’s lack of polish might not align with the Blazers’ current timeline. If Portland is going to roll the dice on a player with that skill set, Neil Olshey might be better served to re-sign Wenyen Gabriel and look at other options for the No. 16 selection.
Have a draft-related question? Send your draft mailbag questions to Steve Dewald at BEdgeSteve@gmail dot com.