After not getting any playing time on Friday night in the win over the Utah Jazz, Precious Achiuwa made a huge impact on both ends of the floor against the Atlanta Hawks. He’s an intriguing young player, since he battles every step of the way in his limited minutes.
So, let’s take a look into Achiuwa’s two-way play against the Hawks…
– Switching onto small guards effectively
Achiuwa entered late in the first quarter, and made his defensive presence felt. Rajon Rondo is always searching to find the mismatch, but he quickly found out that Achiuwa covering him might not be a mismatch.
On the first play, he switches onto Rondo while Kendrick Nunn slides for the double. Rondo looks to pass it for an easy bucket, but Achiuwa’s active hands deflect the ball, leading to transition offense for Miami. The second possession was a similar thing, except Rondo looked to take him off the dribble this time. He utilizes his well-known ball fake, which got Achiuwa up in the air, but he somehow recovers.
Achiuwa’s energy and heart will be highlighted throughout a lot of these plays, but he also has natural defensive mechanics like quick recovery speed.
– A Precious move
This is a part of Achiuwa’s game that hasn’t been seen much, since most of his points come from put-backs or alley-oop dunks.
He utilizes a gather dribble after receiving the ball from Andre Iguodala, and goes right into a spin for an and-1. For starters, his footwork is highlighted here and proves to be pretty polished at this stage of his career. He also has a very solid left hand around the rim, which is why he has such flexibility around the basket, making it hard for defenders to block his craftiness.
If Miami can get consistent offense from him like this, it makes his Adebayo relief play even more realistic.
– The never-ending battle for offensive rebounds
When evaluating Achiuwa’s above average ability to locate offensive rebounds, it’s more than just his high energy. It has a lot to do with timing, since as seen here, he waits for the ball to fly off the rim and immediately runs to the front of the rim to grab it.
And take a look at how this play ended. It went from an empty possession to a Kendrick Nunn three, which is important for this team specifically since extra possessions are so crucial for them.
Here’s another example of that fight on the offensive boards. For one, he notices he’s battling with a guy that is his size, so he utilizes his right arm across his body to tip it up in the air.
This allows him to get possession of the ball, and take a look at how quickly he went back up with it. Quick decisions are important for young players, even if they’re not always the right decision. It led to another trip to the free throw line, which may come a lot for him due to his aggression down low.
– An ability to readjust
An interesting part about Achiuwa as a lob threat is his ability to read a team’s pick and roll defense.
Kendrick Nunn created a 2 on 1 opportunity, which John Collins slid up leading to the lob. Trae Young dropped down on Achiuwa, which means he could’ve clearly rushed the catch and laid it in. Except, he knows he can land and take it back up on the smaller Young, which is exactly what he did.
Once again, many young players without experience aren’t readjusting on that play. But Achiuwa knows his role so well at this point, that he can read situations by the rim pretty easily.
– Plays much bigger than he is
Achiuwa only being 6’8 does not seem to be the case most nights, since he plays as big of any center he matches up with. He’s powerful, physical, and well, isn’t afraid to throw it down.
On this play, Nunn’s improved play-making must be noted for a second. He draws two defenders when driving baseline, and instead of getting stuck, he throws a great bounce pass to Achiuwa under the basket.
He utilizes yet another gather dribble, which seems to be his safety net, and rises right up for an impressive slam. And once again, did not look like a guy that is only 6’8.
– Running the floor, playing above the rim
Another thing that must be discussed is Miami’s bench unit once fully healthy. Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro being in the back-court will be quite the offensive push, while Achiuwa always seems to thrive with them on the floor. But a name that hasn’t been linked to Achiuwa a lot is Iguodala, and he should.
Iguodala runs a lot of Miami’s offense, while a fantastic play-making ability means more opportunities for Achiuwa. These four guys complete Miami’s 9 man rotation for now, and it’s quite the mix of play styles.
On this play, though, take a look at Achiuwa to start the play. He’s way behind Iguodala, who is bringing the ball up the floor, and immediately turns on the burners to get straight to the basket. It seems as if Collins just gave up on the defensive possession for Atlanta, even when Achiuwa created the 2 on 1.
Of course, it led to an easy alley-oop finish for him, and there are more to come when that bench unit gets into a rhythm together pretty soon.