It wasn’t much of an eventful evening for the Miami Heat.
Despite rumors of trading the pick and selecting later in the second-round, President Pat Riley and his staff chose to stay put with pick No. 20. The end result: Memphis forward Precious Achiuwa.
Unlike a 2019 NBA Draft, one that featured a Tyler Herro selection, a trade for K.Z. Okpala and the departure of their 44th pick, Miami stayed reluctant in making any noise, rather silently selecting a prospect that fitted the needs the team was looking for.
“I felt tonight that we did very well,” Riley said. “We were looking for bigs like him that were quick, that were athletic, that could run, that could handle.”
Achiuwa took over the Memphis program once James Wiseman left early on in the season, averaging 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game as a freshman for the Tigers in 2019-20. He became the first player to earn American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season.
The selection did raise eyebrows for some, as the Heat chose to pass up on Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey, among others.
Maxey stood out as an elite scorer on a stacked Wildcats squad, averaging 14 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game last season. The 6-foot-3 guard was named second-team All-SEC and All-SEC freshman team. Thanks to the pipeline Miami had generated with John Calipari’s program – Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro – it seemed as if Maxey’s name was bound to be heard at No. 20.
Miami elected to go another way.
“We think we probably have one of the most underrated players in the draft,” Riley continued.
After all, the decision to go with Achiuwa makes definite sense. Whether his impact will be felt immediately is unknown, but it’s a solid investment with the chance to pay off.
Heat getting their needs answered.
Better said by Riley, “in the playoffs, there was a time when size hurt us.” With an opportunity to pick up a respected player on the glass alongside Bam Adebayo, it makes sense why the Heat took the 21-year-old.
Riley told the media that he’d love to use Adebayo and Achiuwa together – although that’s an Erik Spoelstra decision – a 1-2 punch that serves well for a Miami club that strives off the use of pick and rolls and alley-oops. The 6-foot-9 forward also gives the Heat a chance to continue spreading the floor and maneuvering with a small-ball lineup, meaning that nothing will likely change throughout the pandemic-busted offseason and training camp.
The addition of Achiuwa cuts leverage on the need to resign Meyers Leonard or keep Kelly Olynyk. Now, Miami can potentially live with the departure of at least one of those veteran big-men.
From UD to Adebayo, mentorship could shape Achiuwa into a mindful player.
There’s nothing better than learning from someone with a plethora of experience and knowledge in any topic. In this case, Achiuwa will learn and grow with Udonis Haslem and Adebayo to lean on for advice, along with a coaching staff consisting of former NBA pros.
A cause of concern for the one-and-done forward was his decision-making. With an organization involved in the development of Achiuwa, that worry should be able to progress throughout time.
“I just look forward to learning from him every day,” Achiuwa said on Adebayo.