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Why Achiuwa could be right pick for Kings in 2020 NBA Draft

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  • This is the third installment of a series breaking down the potential selections for the Sacramento Kings with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

The Kings filled the biggest void in the franchise on Thursday morning when they officially announced Monte McNair as the team’s new general manager. Now it’s time to get to the business of basketball, which is going to heat up in the upcoming weeks.

Sacramento has holes in its roster that need to be filled. While it may not seem like the biggest need for the team at this time, the center spot could be a position of need if not this season, the year after.

Armed with the No. 12 pick, McNair could look at a stack of wings to improve the team’s depth. He might also jump at a chance to take a high energy big in Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa, who we have the Kings selecting in the latest NBA mock draft at NBC Sports Bay Area.

Here is a look at how Achiuwa grades out as a prospect and some thoughts on whether he would work for the Kings when the draft rolls around on Nov. 18.

Stats

Stats: 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.9 blocks, 49.3percent FG, 32.5 percent 3-point

Age: 20 Height: 6-foot-9 Weight: 225 Wingspan: 7-foot-2

When James Wiseman stepped away from Memphis after just three games amidst an eligibility controversy, it opened the door for Achiuwa to shine.

Long and athletic with a quick first step, Achiuwa has an NBA ready body that can easily be added to when working with an NBA training staff.

 

Achiuwa turns 21 this coming weekend, which makes him an older freshman prospect, but he has plenty of room to grow. Born in Harcourt, Nigeria, Achiuwa grew up playing soccer and didn’t take up basketball until the eighth grade.

In his lone season at Memphis, Achiuwa posted 18 double-doubles, scored in double-figures in 27 out of 31 contests and grabbed a career-best 22 rounds in a win over Tulane on Feb. 29.

Strengths

Achiuwa will earn minutes early in his career as a high motor defensive minded big. He can play both the four and the five, although he projects more as a center at the NBA level.

He has quick first step, is light on his feet for a player of his size and he has the potential to defend at least three positions. He’s good on the switch, closes out well on the perimeter and he’s shown that he can stay in front of almost anyone.

Achiuwa posted an 11.4 percent offensive rebounding rate and 24.6 percent on the defensive end, which are both solid numbers in the NCAA. He’s active on the glass and could become a walking double-double for an NBA team.

An above average shot blocker, both on ball and on the weakside, Achiuwa has has high-end defensive potential. He has a huge wingspan and he doesn’t take plays off. He’ll need to add a few pounds to hang with some of the bigger centers in the league, but he has the potential to be a starting five in the near future.

On the offensive end, Achiuwa is slightly raw and will need time to develop, but he sets strong screens and is a big target on the roll to the rim. He runs the floor extremely well and can even dribble the ball in transition, although he’ll need to tighten his handles.

There is potential for Achiuwa to extend his range out past the 3-point line. He shot 32.5 percent on 1.3 attempts per game as a freshman, although he’ll need to work on his consistency.

RELATED: 2020 NBA mock draft 16.0: Projecting first-round picks after lottery

Weaknesses

His shot selection needs work, but he should have a defined role at the next level and it’s unlikely that he comes close to the usage rate he had at Memphis. He’ll likely work in the two-man game and get a few opportunities in transition. He’ll also create a few opportunities for himself on the offensive glass.

In Year 2 and 3, he may be able to add some moves off the dribble and build out more of a repertoire on the blocks. He has some of these skills already, but they need a lot of refinement.

Achiuwa is physical and plays through contact, which allowed him to get to the free throw line six times per game. On the downside, he hit just 59.9 percent from the stripe. He has the potential to get to the line more, but he has to clean up his shooting or it will become an issue.

 

In addition to being slightly limited on the offensive end, Achiuwa isn’t a great passer. He may be able to develop slightly in this area, but he also turned the ball over at a high clip, finishing with a 1-to-2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.

On the defensive side of the ball, he has a tendency to get flat footed on occasion. He’ll need to stay locked in mentally at the NBA level or teams will exploit his lapses.

Achiuwa averaged 2.4 personal fouls per game, but that number could jump significantly at the next level due to his style of play.

Fit with Kings

There is a lot to like about Achiuwa and the way he plays. He’s a physical, no-nonsense big that plays with a heart and determination the Kings need.

The Kings currently have Richaun Holmes under contract at the five and there is talk that Marvin Bagley will shift over to the position as well. But Holmes has just a year remaining on his deal and Bagley managed to play just 13 games last season.

With Alex Len and Harry Giles both ready to hit the open market as unrestricted free agents, the Kings need depth at the position and maybe even a long term solution.

Achiuwa isn’t a perfect prospect, but at No. 12, you need to find value. His motor and physical play style could be impactful for a team like the Kings. His ability to communicate and switch on defense is also an added bonus.

Still new to the game, Achiuwa could very well have a higher ceiling than he showed in his one season at Memphis. It’s unlikely he’ll become a star level player, but his skill set should translate well.

Player Comparison

Better defending Kenneth Faried, Montrezl Harrell