Playing for Nigeria in advance of the Tokyo Olympics, Precious Achiuwa is taking advantage of an opportunity he didn’t have last year. The (compressed) 2020-21 NBA season started just a month after the 2020 Draft. And though Achiuwa made an impression early in his NBA career — he made the Rising Stars team — he became borderline unplayable later in his rookie season.
Since the Heat have two first-round picks out the window — their selection this year and a 2023 lottery-protected pick — Achiuwa has an important role as a young potential asset. His improvement should be a paramount goal for the team this season, whether they plan to carve out a role for him or include him in a trade.
It’s been encouraging to see him play, taking the ball up court and, yes, making the occasional 3-pointer.
You have Precious running up with the court with ball attacking and making plays for his teammates.— (@WadexFlash) July 12, 2021
KZ once again showed his defensive potential and created an open look for Gabe. Also showed his 3 ball as well. I’m excited to see the future of these two.#HeatTwitter pic.twitter.com/ldUWaNsCrH
Though he joked that Erik Spoelstra would “kill me,” former NBA coach and current Nigeria coach Mike Brown said that he wants Achiuwa to take the 3 when his feet are set and he’s open.
Mike Brown said he knew Precious Achiuwa would be a "vertical threat in the paint." But Brown added that if Achiuwa's feet are set and he's open, he wants him to take the three. "I know Spo is going to kill me," Brown said with a laugh.— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) July 12, 2021
Achiuwa attempted just one 3-pointer in the 737 minutes of his rookie season. He missed. In his lone season at Memphis, though, the 21-year-old made 13 of 40 attempts from 3. When the Heat drafted Achiuwa, part of the allure behind playing Achiuwa with Bam Adebayo was his potential 3-point capability.
Brown is right to encourage Achiuwa to take 3s. Because Jimmy Butler and Adebayo are non-shooters, the other players on the court need to demand respect from distance for the offense to flow. Even an average 3-point shot would help Achiuwa become a nice trade chip or a solid rotation player for Miami.
The Heat’s 2020 draft pick has already thrown shade at Kevin Durant and Stephen A. Smith in the last week. A solid basketball summer could add more to his name.