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2020 NBA Draft scouting report: Precious Achiuwa

Wichita State v Memphis

In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will be profiled in this space and, in this installment, we evaluate Memphis standout Precious Achiuwa.

There are few prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft with a wider range of evaluations than Precious Achiuwa of Memphis. If you take the glass half full approach, one might see an intriguing small ball center along the lines of a Montrezl Harrell. If you are glass half empty, you might be out on him entirely owing to his questionable feel, epitomized by his outlier bad assist-to-turnover ratio.

Among the first qualities that stands out about Achiuwa is his relentless motor. A high energy player, Achiuwa can be a force in transition, grabbing a rebound and charging up the floor in transition. Without a true position, the former Memphis Tiger will likely be optimized as an undersized center. Standing about 6’9 in shoes, with a standing reach just over 9’0, Achiuwa physically resembles Tristan Thompson, just big enough to make the center cut-off without giving up too much size.

Already 21, Achiuwa is a little bit older than you would like for a one-and-done prospect, especially one with such a raw skill set. Most likely, his offensive viability will be dictated by effectively simplifying his role — using him as a finisher in pick-and-roll, sticking him in the dunker spot and letting him clean up, etc. He works hard, not necessarily smart.

Defensively, one can see the outlines. An athletically impressive, laterally quick big, Achiuwa has upside as a switchable defender, allowing him to potentially fit in a variety of schemes. Given the enhanced value of defensive versatility in the postseason, Achiuwa possesses real upside. If he can improve his processing over his rookie deal, he could develop into one of the league’s more unique bigs — his range of outcomes is wide.

Offensive Analysis

  • Made a respectable 32.5 percent of his three-pointers on 40 attempts, but shot below 60 percent from the free throw line. It is hard to project him as a three-point shooter right now given those splits, but his willingness to attempt them suggests he will keep trying them. If he becomes someone a defense has to pay basic levels of respect to beyond the arc, Achiuwa becomes more interesting.
  • Achiuwa will benefit from being selected by a team that wants to play fast; a leisurely approach to getting into offensive sets does not benefit him. His grab-and-go potential needs to be explored; the decision making obviously has to improve for him to earn more usage in that role, but you do not see many big men doing what he can do. Again, genuine upside exists.
  • Had a surprisingly high usage rate of almost 28 percent at Memphis — I do not see this carrying over to the NBA. A lower usage role seems more fitting; however, we have seen guys like Harrell thrive offensively on higher usage. Achiuwa will need to significantly improve as a pick-and-roll finisher to enjoy similar outcomes.

Defensive Analysis

  • Impressive stock rate (steals + blocks) but seems to rely more on athletic tools and chases blocks. This is not atypical for young bigs, especially ones with Achiuwa’s motor, but he needs refinement to succeed in a full time role in the NBA.
  • Is he a full-time center? He has enough mobility to defend forwards, but with his strength and block numbers, as well as his offensive role, it is natural to want Achiuwa playing the vast majority of his minutes at the 5. We have seen how Tristan Thompson (a physical comp) has transitioned to playing mostly center — could Achiuwa assume a similar role out of the gate?

Fit with the Hawks

Precious Achiuwa has extremely long odds to be an Atlanta Hawk, at least based on Atlanta’s current draft slot. With Clint Capela under contract on a multi-year deal, as well as Bruno Fernando and Dewayne Dedmon in the fold, I am skeptical Achiuwa would be on Atlanta’s radar, even in trade-down scenarios.

However, with his ability to run the floor, and his promising defensive versatility, it is possible he could find a fit with the Hawks in the unlikely event he is selected by them. Trae Young makes life easy for bigs who can dunk, and Atlanta’s tempo would make for a nice fit with Achiuwa stylistically.

Still, Achiuwa likely finds himself elsewhere. And I’m very interested to watch him from a distance.