Prospect Report: Precious Achiuwa Of Memphis

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Prospect Report: Precious Achiuwa Of Memphis 

Post#1 » by RealGM Articles » Mon Jul 27, 2020 9:18 pm

Precious Achiuwa was the 17th-ranked recruit in the 2019 high school class[1].


In his one season at Memphis, the six-foot-nine big man averaged 20.8 points per 40 minutes on 53.4% true shooting and collected 18.6% of all available rebounds in his 941 minutes on the floor.


He entered college viewed as a combo forward because of the way he played in his one year at Montverde Academy – regularly looking for opportunities to take his man one-on-one attacking closeouts and out of ball reversals, besides spacing out to the three-point line a fair amount.


Earlier in the season, the 20-year-old was worked in a similar manner, with James Wiseman projected to earn most of the minutes at center, even as his availability remained in question.


But Wiseman eventually decided it wasn’t worth jumping through hoops for the NCAA’s benefit and left the team to start preparing for the draft. In his permanent absence, Achiuwa started sharing the floor consistently with Lance Thomas and Isaiah Maurice, two stretch big men who took 53% and 30.7% of their shots from three-point range, respectively. He was then able to act as the team’s top option near the rim and piled up good numbers as a finisher and a rebounder.


Memphis likely would have missed the tournament, had we gone on to have one, due to poor outside shooting and a ridiculously high turnover rate. Achiuwa contributed to those problems but wasn’t one of the anchors that sank the boat. He did log 27.8% usage rate but acted more as a play finisher and generally got to hang closer to the basket – with 76% of his field goal makes either assisted or created via putbacks [2].


On the other end, Thomas and Maurice spelled him from the most physical matchups but Achiuwa still had a good deal of responsibility helping protect the rim, not just on longer rotations coming off the weakside but also being able to hang back close to the rim and operate as the last line of defense quite a bit because of college basketball’s notoriously poor spaced offenses.


He looks like someone who can offer the versatility of defending on the perimeter and Memphis tested that by having him pick up smaller players on switches on occasion, but the results were largely disappointing, especially considering how he looked more capable in high school.


Nonetheless, Achiuwa was a key cog on a team that excelled on defense; he logged 75.3% of the minutes available at his position [3] while Memphis ranked fifth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency [4] and our estimation suggests the team defended a lot better with him on the floor than without him, as he posted the lowest defensive rating on the team, Wiseman’s brief couple of coffee aside.


The Bronx, New York native is currently ranked 11th on ESPN’s top 100 at the time of writing, but could end up being viewed even more favorably if we were to have some version of the workout season normally associated with the pre-draft schedule, as he looks like the exact type of prospect whose combination of physical profile and athletic ability wows decision makers who join the process late.


Help Defense


Achiuwa has shown to be attentive to his responsibilities stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense, as well as an easy leaper off two feet and adept at leveraging his nine-foot standing reach [5] to challenge shots above the rim.


Perhaps more impressively, he also flashed some promising recognition skills helping against backdoor cuts and making preventive rotations that denied the ball-handler space towards driving all the way to the rim.


Those moments were promising but didn’t necessarily translate to discouraging opponents from forcing the issue, as they still attempted 36.3% of their live-ball attempts at the rim, a mark that ranked Memphis 193rd out of 353 Division I teams [6].


He’s also shown to be active rotating off the weakside to pick up the roll man and a quick enough leaper to make plays on the ball off quick sprints to the basket – averaging 2.5 blocks per 40 minutes last season.


Achiuwa is not yet as effective a rim protector as he could be because it’s not uncommon to see him trying to meet the ball-handler at the summit with odd angles. He has a habit of not turning his body towards the opponent completely, thus unable to position himself perfectly between the opponent and the goal.


He is also prone to biting on shot fakes, although he managed to stay out of foul trouble in his one year at Memphis – averaging 3.1 personal fouls per 40 minutes.


Nonetheless, Achiuwa played a key role in elevating Memphis’ interior defense into elite status, averaging 30.4 minutes per game on a team that ranked first in the country in shooting percentage allowed at the rim and fourth in percentage of shots blocked at the rim.


On the flipside, he is quite overaggressive rotating off the strongside corner in a manner considered to be ill-advised according to the modern principles of help defense in relation to shot location value, something I also noticed him do frequently in his time at Montverde Academy.


His work recovering back to the three-point line is also only so-so.


When he was at his most engaged, Achiuwa impressed with his nimbleness, his quickness and his body control executing stunts and hustling back to the arc; able to dig in, run the shooter off his shot with urgency and stay balanced to defend off the bounce.


But there were also quite a few moments where he was seen getting blown by on lackadaisical efforts.


Pick-And-Roll Defense


Achiuwa was most commonly asked to show-and-recover while extending a couple of steps above the foul line. He was regularly seen approaching the ball handler flat-footed, didn’t stand out in terms of being able to stop the ball while keeping track of the roll man behind him and had some iffy moments where he got completely turned around out in space.


In more basic north-and-south actions, Achiuwa puts in the effort to contest pull-ups and his nine-foot standing reach is an asset in mid-range. He also impressed with his hustle defending the pick-and-pop, able to cover some ground in a pinch and contest the catch-and-shoot attempt effectively.


But he is not yet as developed at leveraging his seven-foot-two wingspan into shutting down pocket passes or batting away lobs – averaging just 1.4 steals per 40 minutes last season.


Achiuwa was beaten foul line down by smaller players a few times, which is not supposed to happen for someone whose fluidity and agility is expected to make him capable of hanging with smaller players, at least within short areas. He showed a somewhat impressive burst to recover and block the shot from behind at the rim a few times but in the NBA, odds are that guard will get to the basket before you can get to him.


He was asked to pick up smaller players on switches from time-to-time and didn’t hold up as well in college as he had in high school. Achiuwa exchanges into the ball-handler flat-footed, then gets into a soft stance and was too spacey to be effective. He has a few lateral slides in him to stay attached to less threatening types who can only go north-and-south without much speed but without locking in, Achiuwa can’t be trusted to switch onto a shiftier type who can shake him side-to-side. He was also not a good option to crossmatch onto perimeter players regularly, even other wing-sized players, due to his inability to get over a screen.


Post Defense


Achiuwa showed quite pleasing tenacity attempting to front the post and deny easy post entries. He has a chiseled 225-pound frame and did well holding his ground in college, as well as guarding with his arms up near the rim to discourage opponents from attempting to finish over him. It might get dicey for him on matchups against some of the legit behemoths the NBA has, though.


Rebounding


Achiuwa is not totally oblivious to his boxout responsibilities and had some good moments of physicality in high school but most often acted like a pogo-stick rebounder who completed Lance Thomas’ dirty work by focusing on chasing the ball off the rim, which he excelled at once James Wiseman left the team – collecting 24.7% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor in his one year at Memphis.


His average of 10.4 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes ranks fourth among prospects listed on ESPN’s top 100, behind only Aleksej Pokusevski, James Wiseman and Nathan Knight.


Achiuwa wasn’t quite as efficient in the offensive glass, though. He has a seven-foot-two wingspan to rebound outside of his area but struggled with his lift on the second jump – collecting 11.4% of Memphis’ misses when he was on the floor but shooting just 62.2% on his 49 putback attempts.


Finishing


Achiuwa is a basic screener at this point of his development. He widens his stance and isn’t averse to drawing contact if the ball-handler does well in manipulating the on-ball defender towards the pick but hasn’t yet developed any type of advanced technique (flipping the screen, slipping the pick, developing a feel for re-screening, setting moving picks that don’t get called, laying Gortat screens).


His hands catching the ball on the move proved to be only so-so but Achiuwa proved capable of going up explosively off two feet without needing to load up and play above the rim as a target for lobs, not just sneaking behind the defense on longer rolls and out of the dunker spot but diving down the middle of the lane in a crowd too.


With Thomas and Maurice spacing the floor, he was able to live near the basket once Wiseman departed – taking 62.6% of his live-ball attempts within close range and being assisted or finishing putbacks on 79% of his makes there.


Achiuwa showed glimpses of versatility to his finishing package at the basket with reverses, using his length to over-extend, going to his left hand reasonably comfortably and being able to finish through contact. But his touch on non-dunk finishes left a lot to be desired.


His 148 makes at the rim rank fifth among NCAA prospects listed on ESPN’s top 100 and his 64.1% shooting on 231 total attempts at the basket looks solid on the surface but subtracting his 47-for-52 shooting on dunks results in Achiuwa shooting just 56.4% on 179 layups.


Driving


He can grab-and-go off a defensive rebound and take it end-to-end, wowing with his fluidity on a straight line if left unimpeded.


Achiuwa is not an option to trigger offense, though, having not yet developed the handle, court vision and side-to-side quickness for that, except maybe slow transitioning into an isolation, which he was quite comfortable doing at Montverde.


That pattern is about the same in the halfcourt.


He can look smooth attacking the basket off the bounce on a straight line, not just shot-faking out of triple-threat position but faking dribble-handoffs and facing the basket out of the post as well.


Achiuwa is not as fast or coordinated with the ball when forced to go side-to-side. He has flashed a nifty spin move to gain ground and momentum forward but generally shows a loose handle and struggles to play through contact, making him quite turnover prone in traffic – averaging 3.7 turnovers per 40 minutes.


Achiuwa also flirted with a kickout in rhythm off that occasional spin move but can’t really be expected to create for others on the move at this point – assisting on just 7.5% of Memphis’ scores when he was on the floor, at a very lousy 0.34 assist-to-turnover ratio.


Achiuwa has shown a two-dribble stop-and-pop pull-up off immediately attacking the pass when he spaced out to the three-point line and it looks sweet if he’s allowed to go into this pre-arranged choreography unbothered but other than that, Achiuwa struggled badly away from the immediate basket area – missing 75.4% of his 138 shots away from the rim.


His shot selection in mid-range was quite poor and the little bit of dexterity he had shown in high school didn’t translate to college, as he was unable to play in rhythm against opponents more capable of staying in front, bodying him up and pressing him – often elevating off balance for wild attempts.


Shooting


He spaced out to the three-point line from time-to-time but far less than he showed the ambition to do in his time at Montverde, averaging just 1.7 three-point shots per 40 minutes in his one year at Memphis.


Achiuwa doesn’t point all of his toes towards the rim (which is unusual among right-handed shooters), elevates off 1-2 footwork and is pretty inconsistent from attempt-to-attempt with how high leaps.


There isn’t a lot of weight transfer going on with his approach, as he doesn’t bend his knees much, and it often seems like jumping and shooting are disjointed. He fully extends himself for a high release but often misses to the side, which suggests his mechanics need to be adjusted too.


Achiuwa hit just 32.5% of his 40 three-point shots this past season, as well as just 59.9% of his 187 foul shots, putting into question if he even has the touch in place for a projectable jump-shooting stroke to be built upon.


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