Is Precious Achiuwa the answer to the Raptors' woes?

Imman Adan, Oren Weisfeld and Amit Mann discuss what Precious Achiuwa will contribute once he returns and how that can help alleviate the pressure on some of the Raptors' flaws. Listen to the full episode looking at New Year's resolutions for Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, Toronto's management and more on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed.

Video Transcript

IMMAN ADAN: This is a team that still has a lot of talent. And one person that is waiting in the wings, Precious Achiuwa. I want to ask you guys, do you think that if the Raptors were trying to find a solution within the team, that Precious can be that guy, or do you think that they have to look elsewhere and bring in someone? Amit, you touched on it already, but is there anything that maybe, Oren, you wanted to add, or Amit you wanted to expand on there.

OREN WEISFELD: You go ahead. You go first, Amit.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, sure. I mean, I just look at the numbers that he had last season, and we're hoping that he replicates some kind of that form, right? Like 24 minutes per game, 12 points, 40% from 3's, six rebounds. He was terrific. It does make me pause a little bit that he actually didn't have much of a role so far this season in the games that he actually played. He was averaging like 14 minutes. His last few games before he got injured, they were pretty good. He was getting some stable minutes, and it seemed like he was turning the corner a little bit, but the 3 point shooting was not there.

So I think you look at the team themselves, and like rim protection and downhill penetration and 3 point shooting are their flaws. So, yes. Precious can help with that, but even Nick Nurse when he was asked about Precious, he's like, yeah. Another good piece off the bench-- off the bench. And meanwhile, going into the season, we were like hey, maybe Gary should move to the bench, and Precious should be the starting center. That's where we were, but here's where Nick Nurse is.

So I think there is a bit of some disjointed chemistry there at that point. He's going to-- he could help, for sure, but he's missed like 20 plus games. He's not going to come in. He's not going to be ready to go. Like, he's also a young guy. He's not like seasoned in the NBA where he can just pedal to the metal as soon as he gets going. Like, he needs time, and putting that kind of pressure on him, I'm not sure if that's the way to go.

But he is going to be a boost. I mean, in the end, switching ability, rim protection-- he is their best rim protector, 3 point shooting if it is there. He can attack closeouts if he gets there. Joel Embiid he knows. The talent's there, but is it going to happen this year after he's missed so much time? I don't know, man. I hope so. I think the Raptors are hoping so too because my gosh they're desperate. At the very least, if he's able to be a rim protector and help there, and he's able to build up his minutes, I think that would be a huge help. But outside of that-- yeah. Go ahead.

IMMAN ADAN: I-- no, I completely agree with that. And I have this stat here from Josh Lewenberg, who said, "Raptors opponents were shooting 62.8% from inside 5 feet pre-Achiuwa," which is roughly league average. "Since then, teams are shooting 69.3%," which is just abysmal, and they just miss a post defender. They miss a rim protector. They miss someone on the inside, and that's really where you want Precious Achiuwa to help.

But you did touch on something there about him being young, and I think that that's something that the Raptors are dealing with for the first time. I mean, we all talk about this being a team that knows how to work those two timelines, right, where you have your young guys and you have your stars, but these are the first sort of years where you're very, very reliant on your young guys. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet could spend some time in the G League. Norman Powell can spend time in the G League. They were also your bench mob. They were guys who came off the bench. You did not rely on them to be a starter, to hopefully be your starting center who anchors your defense. And Scottie, your starting point guard, your starting center, who knows where you want to put him. I think the Raptors are just leaning too heavily on guys who are just not there right now.

And to Oren's point, Scottie has started the games really slowly and does need to work into it. And that hurts the Raptors because we're relying on 21-year-olds to really be the team, and that's quite difficult. But let's pivot away from all the doom and gloom and let's look at things--

OREN WEISFELD: Can I just talk about precious real quick? Sorry.

IMMAN ADAN: Please, yeah.

OREN WEISFELD: OK. I just want to add a stat that [INAUDIBLE] I think from CSN wrote on Josh Lewenberg's piece, which is that 85 games with Achiuwa with the Raptors, 106 opponent points, and 54 rebounds for the Raptors. And then 31 games without him, 114 opponent points, and less than 50 rebounds. So that's definitely a thing we don't talk about is the rebounding. He's their best rebounder, I think, on the team and, like you said, their best rim protector this year.

And you saw it in the Memphis game. Teams are just getting dunks at will against the Raptors. And that's the biggest problem. Like, 3 point variancy is fine. Like, we'll take games where if it was a 3 point shootout, the Raptors would have a lot better record, but teams are getting to the rim against the Raptors, and the Raptors aren't getting to the rim against teams. And Precious can legitimately help that. So there's honestly, in my opinion, a non-zero chance that Precious completely turns around this season for them because he is exactly the type of player they need. But that's way too much pressure, like you guys, said to put on a 23-year-old and a guy who has never had a major injury in his career and who is going to have to play himself into some sort of rhythm.

And I think the biggest issue is that they've put themselves in such a hole now that it almost feels like they have no choice but for [INAUDIBLE] to save the season in the sense of, like, you can't make an all out trade for a starting center right now, I don't think, because you're in-- you're so bad. So it kind of has to come internally. And so there is a lot of pressure on him, and I don't know how he's going to fare with it. But, yeah. Sorry, go on. Yeah.

IMMAN ADAN: No, I think--

AMIT MANN: Just to add on to that-- just for a second because I was looking at the numbers last season, too. And if you look at the accuracy of the opponent at the rim last season compared to this season, numbers are very similar. But the frequency in which they're getting there has taken a massive uptick. The ways in which teams are scoring in the mid-range has taken a 4% uptick. So those are problems, and the point of attack defense has been a problem.

Again, I don't know what Fred's deal is right now, but the man's not moving very well, Scottie Barnes not moving very well. This is the NBA. This is how it is. But when your point of attack defense is bad, which it wasn't that bad last year, that's where teams are getting into the paint at will. And that is a huge problem. Ja Morant last night--

IMMAN ADAN: If you're going to have bad point of attack defense, you better have a rim protector there.

AMIT MANN: No question. No, seriously. And like, Jeff's special, so he's going to get to the paint anyways, but like last night, it was at will, man. It was crazy. And the conflicting timelines-- Oren, you wrote a piece about it. It's interesting, right? Like Koloko, he's been playing a lot. Khem Birch, I don't know why, I said this like two weeks ago-- like why isn't he playing 20 minutes a game? You know what you're going to get from him. He's stable. Even like last night, he checked in-- I believe his first minutes were in the second half to start, right? First possession.

Again, John Brant was the problem last night, but, you know, Khem Birch pick and roll with Steven Adams, he handles it pretty well. Cat and mouse game-- he does it just right. Contests very nicely, he gets the rebound, off the Raptors go. That's stuff that he can do. And at least he's going to play tougher than Christian Koloko. Bless his heart, he's going to try, but the man isn't ready yet, and I hope he is. I wish he was, but he's not. He's a rookie.

So this is kind of just how it is. And like, what are the Raptors going to do? Do you want to keep on staying committed to, hey, we're going to get Christian Koloko reps and so forth? The man needs 20 pounds is what he needs. He's not ready yet. So, what are you going to do? We keep on talking about Jakob Poeltl and Myles Turner. They're both looking for hefty raises during the off season, I think. I think they're both up for a contract extension. So that's what they're looking--

IMMAN ADAN: I'll start a GoFundMe.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, seriously. I'll put 20 bucks in-- 100 maybe. Who knows?

IMMAN ADAN: Rogers charges me enough already.

AMIT MANN: I'm going to keep on gambling on the other star players to get the over on assists, and we'll see where I can net out.