How can the Raptors leverage Precious Achiuwa better?

Amit Mann and Stephen Cagan look at ways the Raptors can utilize Precious Achiuwa's unique set of skills on both ends of the court more effectively next season. Listen to the full podcast on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our Yahoo Sports Canada YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: How can the Raptors leverage his skills better?

STEPHEN CAGAN: I think we touched on it some as far as continuing to put him in situations, where things come easy for him, so allowing him to just take that grab and go, and just run with it, and opening that door for him. I would love to see Toronto, in general, run a little bit more ball screen action.

AMIT MANN: Oh yeah.

STEPHEN CAGAN: It's something that, I think, is lacking. And I understand the idea of since you have size at every position, you're able to locate mismatches, and just kind of take guys one on one, and do that thing. But ball screen action, they have the ability with all these equal sized guys to also do some inverted, like, pick and rolls, where Precious is handling.

AMIT MANN: Funky, funky stuff.

STEPHEN CAGAN: Fred can come set a screen for him or vice versa, and I think that's something that will really allow him to unlock that decision making process.


STEPHEN CAGAN: It'll put him in situations, where he has to do that. That's something that I would experiment with in the regular season and maybe something I taper back once we start getting towards the playoffs, but those reps are going to be-- that's how he's going to grow in these areas. I would love to see that. As far as defensively, we also touched on this. I think he should be asked a lot of defensively, and that's something that will then allow everybody else to have a little less burden on their shoulders. Because they are already playing so many minutes.

So that's something, where that's leveraging his skill as someone who can match up with the best player on an opposing team, but also, roam, and peel off, and protect the rim. Like put that on his plate, man, like play him minutes, play him big minutes next to your stars, and that's where-- I think we'll touch on this later. But that's where, I think, he might actually find some of his value coming off of the bench as pretty much the backup four, the three, four, and five. And he's getting 30 minutes a night just spelling those guys and coming in with big energy.

AMIT MANN: 100,000 million bajillion percent on the pick and rolls. The Raptors had the second most isolation plays per game last season, but finished 26th in isolation points per possession. So there you go, and then they're also bottom five in pick and rolls per game.

So I wonder. Because the Raptors, I mean, when Kyle Lowry was point guard, they read a lot more pick and roll, because he just is an offensive guru. And he's that guy, right? Last season, I wonder, and I'm just, like, spitballing here. Because they knew going into it that their three point shooting was not going to be great, if you don't have great three point shooting-- and it did, like, fluctuate a little bit.

But also, Fred VanVleet was probably one of the more steady hands as a pick and roll ball handler. He has his own limitations, which we'll get to in a second. But when you have that situation, it's a little bit trickier to get those, like, kickout passes to three point shooters, and they're going to make the shot. Because teams are just going to load up on the pick and roll.

And they're going to say, I want to see Chris Boucher, or Precious Achiuwa, or Pascal Siakam, just like the 76ers did in game six that second half when the Raptors scored, like, 17 points or something like that over the course of, like, a bajillion minutes. That's what they did. They said, I want to see you guys. I want to see this guy, and this guy, and this guy hit shots. And if they're not, then we'll live with it. And if they do, then that's fine, because we're going to bank on them not being able to hit enough, while we're going to be able to continue to run our sets and score on the offensive end.

So that was the thought to me. But other than that, man, like-- and they also ran a lot of pick and roll in the playoffs. So I wonder if that was the maturation of their offense granted they didn't have a great three point shooting percentage in the second half of the season. But maybe they were thinking that, OK, this probably couldn't be our go to during a half court, during the regular season, because we just don't have the shooters around us. But over time, maybe it has improved in that way.

But with Precious Achiuwa, I mean, you can just see it with someone who's so explosive. If he's able to go screens, and slips, and dribble handoff offs, and being, like, that Draymond Green kind of guy, the dribble handoff to grab and goes, because he's so explosive around the rim. He just needs a little bit of room around the three point line, and all of a sudden, he may just have, like, this huge window to just score around the basket. That would be terrific, and also, a lob threat.

And Fred VanVleet, I mentioned him a second ago. He does have some God given limitations when it comes to throwing lobs, but you think of some of the teams that have lob threats and how successful they are, right? Like it's such a easy way to get halfcourt offense, and the Raptors, I think, they finished around 15th, or so, or 12th in offensive rating last season.

If you have a lot of Pascal Siakam or Scottie Barnes, they're your ball handler, and now, you have Precious Achiuwa. He's a screener. He's a roller. Different passing angles will be available, and again, inverted stuff. Fred is a terrific screener. He relishes it, use his shooting gravity to create offense for his teammates. That kind of stuff, I think that's kind of where the Raptors could really help him.

But overall-- and I did a video on this with Ogugua Anunoby, and how the Raptors could utilize him better. It came down to him not having to be that corner three point shooter, because they just need a spacing. If he's able to-- if you have other players who are able to effectively fill that role at a decent clip, OG was around, I think, 46% on corner threes. Other players who are around league average or something like that, now, OG can explore his offensive game a little bit. And it's going to help the Raptors overall just, like, their whole offense if they have better consistent three point shooting from everyone other than Gary, and Fred, and, I guess, OG.

STEPHEN CAGAN: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it's a tricky balance to find trying to figure out where the ball handling responsibility is going to come from, especially when Pascal's offense is so solid. In ISO, you almost just want to kind of get it to him, but there is a certain overreliance there. And that's the hope is that Scottie, I think, can turn into a little bit more of a primary ball handler, and we're able to throw all these really interesting screening actions at him. And he's shown some of that brilliance, and some of that vision, and the ability to map the court and know where guys are, and hit some really nice passes that, I think, this year, you're going to want Scottie on ball more, running a little bit more pick and roll, allowing Fred to take advantage of how excellent he is off the ball.

He's a spectacular shooter, especially before he got hurt last year. Like he's great. He's one of the best shooters in the league, so getting him a little bit more of an open shot off of Scottie pick and rolls, I think, would be really, really good for the rest of the team. Everything would fit into place better, like you mentioned.

AMIT MANN: What does--