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Heat Take Precious Achiuwa With No. 20 Overall Pick

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

With a hope to replicate the same success they’ve garnered in recent years, the Miami Heat chose Memphis forward Precious Achiuwa with the No. 20 pick in the NBA Draft.

Miami sees this selection as an opportunity to add rebounding and strength to the frontcourt alongside Bam Adebayo. With such a desire to find players who can contribute inside the paint, the Heat wasted no time finding the ideal fit.

Achiuwa averaged 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game as a freshman for the Tigers in 2019-20. The 6-foot-9, 234-pound prospect adds a 7-foot-2.5 wingspan to his arsenal, an addition for a Heat team that ranked 23rd in blocks per game last season.

Although he wasn’t at the top of their draft board, Achiuwa, was definitely an eye-catcher for the Heat front office. Miami had used one of their 10 pre-draft workouts on the 21-year-old.

Achiuwa took over the Memphis program once James Wiseman left early on in the season, totaling 18 double doubles in a pandemic-shortened year. He became the first player to earn American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season.

According to numerous sources, Miami had attempted to test the waters in terms of the valuing the No. 20 pick. Still, they stayed put with it, and plan to use the selection right away.

“It is deep. There are good players,” assistant general manager Adam Simon said on the 2020 Draft last week. “… We feel good about the players that we studied.”

Varying what the Heat do with big-men Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard, Achiuwa could be a vital piece to the Heat’s lineup from the jump.

Here is an advanced scouting report on the Heat’s 2020 pick:

STRENGTHS: On the youngest team in the country, Achiuwa stood his ground and took over for the Tigers with Wiseman gone. He went on to play an average of 30.4 minutes per game. Achiuwa benefits off Miami’s quick-tempo offense, rather than playing in a system that takes its time to get things rolling. The Nigeria native fits the ideal four spot, but could play some of the five when Miami chooses to go small and spread the court. He adds a 32.5 percent three-point shot as well, something that could be developed throughout time. His 7-foot-2.5 wingspan gives Achiuwa high-praise on the defensive side specifically. Considering the 10.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals he averaged at Memphis, that efficiency should translate to the NBA.

WEAKNESSES: Like most freshmen, inconsistent shooting is an on-going concern. Achiuwa shot a poor 59.9 percent at the free-throw line and managed a total field goal percentage of 49.3. Additionally, he lacks an ability to dribble up and down the court, something Miami has enjoyed doing with Adebayo, Olynyk and Leonard. That inability mixed in with his decision-making could be a worry, although experience and mentoring could play dividends. At 21-years-old, Achiuwa isn’t the ideal age of a one-and-done, rather a rookie in the league today. Still, it could be beneficial in regards to the maturity and understanding of what Miami looks for in a prospect in hopes to make another run at an NBA championship.

SUMMARY: After an abysmal rebounding outing against the L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals, there was an obvious need to up the big-man rotation. Achiuwa not only adds an 82.5 defensive rating, 27.7 usage and +5.9 defensive box plus-minus, but extreme athleticism that correlates with what Miami likes to do. Along with Adebayo and Derrick Jones Jr., the rookie forward can be utilized in pick and rolls to the basket, along with an occasional mid-range jump shot. If developed furtherly, Achiuwa could also serve as the primary big to a small-ball lineup, something done frequently with Adebayo. He’s a hard-working and energetic prospect that has the traits to fit in with the Heat culture over time.

ACHIUWA’S FIT WITH MIAMI: At first glance, the thought of passing up on Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey was a bit of a questionable move. Looking at it now, the No. 20 selection makes sense for the needs that Miami is eyeing. The 6-foot-9 forward has spent the past few years coached by Montverde Academy’s Kevin Boyle and Memphis’ Penny Hardaway. Now, he joins a 1-2 punch of masterminds Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley. Achiuwa will be an experiment in terms of expanding his game, but for what he offers as of now, he’s still worth the pick. His pick and roll game comes in handy and so does his rebounding, the ideals to what made Miami a successful club last season. Pairing Achiuwa with Jimmy Butler and the Heat offers him a mentorship spot that has helped numerous young players on the roster, ranging from Kendrick Nunn to Tyler Herro. It’s a satisfying pick for Miami once again, and hopefully one that’ll pay off.

Michael Yero covers all of South Florida’s major pro teams, along with high school sports for 305 Sports. He also covers sports for Immaculata-La Salle High School’s student newspaper, the Royal Courier.

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