Utah Jazz NBA Draft Prospects: Precious Achiuwa
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA draft is next week, and teams are putting the finishing touches on their draft boards. That includes the Utah Jazz who own the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the draft. Today, we look at Memphis freshman forward Precious Achiuwa and how he’d fit with the Jazz if he were to fall to them in the NBA draft.
Achiuwa is projected in most mock drafts to be selected ahead of where the Jazz are picking, but there’s a slight chance he slips all the way to 23. The Jazz own just one pick in the upcoming draft, having traded their second-round pick in exchange for Kyle Korver in 2018.
Precious Achiuwa: 6’9, 225 lbs Big – Memphis
15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1 assists, 49% FG/32% 3p/59% FT
Precious Achiuwa brings an extremely impressive combination of size, athleticism, and fluidity to the NBA as a freshman. The Memphis big man has a large frame which he moves effortlessly on the basketball court both in transition and catching lobs in the halfcourt.
There simply aren’t many players with his physical profile in the draft, especially as a freshman. Though his body will continue to fill out, there’s no question he has the type of frame that functions at a high level in the NBA.
Achiuwa’s best skillset currently is his ability to switch between bigger and smaller defenders, showing his excellent athleticism near the rim as a help-side shot-blocker or switching onto ball handlers on the perimeter.
In a league that thirsts for defensive versatility, especially among bigger bodies, Achiuwa flashed extreme potential as a cog in blocking up opposing offenses by moving his feet in isolation and rotating as a rim protector.
Offensively, the Memphis freshman is effective attacking towards the rim on and off the ball. Achiuwa’s length (7’2 wingspan) and athleticism allow him to easily finish above the rim whenever he’s near the hoop.
Though his assist numbers were poor, he flashed signs of his feel for the game with some nifty passes to his teammates in the Memphis offense. Achiuwa can put the ball on the floor in one and two dribble sequences and get to the rim.
Where Achiuwa really flourishes on the floor is his effort and motor. Though he didn’t have a lot of plays run for him at Memphis, the freshman got a lot of easy looks in transition and on offensive rebounds.
Prospects who play hard and rebound usually find ways to stick in the NBA which might make Achiuwa one of the safer bets to pan out in the second half of the first round, despite his high upside. His ability to play both the four and the small-ball five will also give him more chances to find a role in the league.
Achiuwa’s game will require a lot of refinement at the next level if he hopes to be a high minute rotation player. The freshman took a lot of bad shots at Memphis that won’t fly in an NBA offense. He had an unproven cast of players around him (especially after James Wiseman ended his season early) but still called his own number too often offensively.
Achiuwa showed signs of being able to knock down the three-point shot, connecting on 32 percent of his attempts at Memphis, though he took just 1.3 attempts per game. His 59 percent free-throw success rate isn’t an encouraging marker for his ability to develop as a shooter.
Though he has an impressive physical build, he seemed to lack toughness at times in college. Achiuwa regularly had the ball poked away in the post and was easily stripped when attempting to dribble. His 2.8 turnovers to just one assist per game average is a concerning sign for his overall feel.
Additionally, Achiuwa would get pushed around in the paint despite his size. He’ll have to do a better job in the NBA of committing to keeping his man from getting to his desired spots on the floor offensively.
At nearly 21 years old, Achiuwa is significantly older than most freshman and may not have as much upside as one would think based on his classification.
How Would Achiuwa Fit with the Jazz in the Draft?
With a strong history of skill development among young players, (Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale) Achiuwa could really benefit from the Jazz patience towards high upside draft picks.
It was apparently last season after waiving Jeff Green that the Jazz lacked both size, length, and athleticism off the bench. If Achiuwa succeeds in the NBA, it will be by filling those exact needs on an NBA roster.
Though he has a lot of room to improve as a roll man in the pick and roll, Achiuwa could earn a lot of easy looks in the Jazz lob heavy offense as a reserve big man when Gobert is off the floor.
If his three-point shooting can evolve to a functional NBA level, Achiuwa would allow the Jazz to run some bigger lineup alongside Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic in the frontcourt. The Jazz severely lacked defensive versatility in the frontcourt and Achiuwa could fill that void almost immediately.
Achiuwa lacks the disciplined game the Jazz tend to seek out in the draft, but his physical tools, effort, and defensive potential would give Quin Snyder a lot to work with.
Additional Prospect Breakdowns:
Utah Jazz Scoreboard
Utah Jazz Team Leaders
Utah Jazz Standings