Entering the NBA draft, Precious Achiuwa often drew comparisons to future Miami Heat teammate Bam Adebayo. The two have similar size and skillsets at the center position but Adebayo believes Achiuwa can be even better than he was as a rookie.
Adebayo, the 14th overall pick in 2017, averaged 6.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 69 games as a rookie. He came off the bench for the majority of that season and wouldn’t become a full-time starter until last year, in which he was named an All-Star for the first time.
While Adebayo has blossomed into one of the elite centers in the NBA, he admitted Achiuwa could be on pace to have a better rookie season than he did given the skillset he brings to the Heat this season.
“He reminds me of myself when I was at Kentucky but he had way more leeway,” Adebayo said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters. “I feel like his rookie year is going to better than mine, me being honest. I feel like he has more skill than I did coming into my rookie year and it’s going to be fun to work with Precious and just figure out what his mindset is and how he wants to go about his rookie year.”
Achiuwa was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year after averaging 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.1 steals and one assist in 31 games played last season with the Tigers. He was also named the AAC Freshman of the Year.
The 21-year-old studied Adebayo throughout much of his season at Memphis and the similarities are easy to see. Achiuwa, like Adebayo, can guard multiple positions given his athleticism and size and can impact games on both ends of the floor.
Miami will be tasked with working Achiuwa into lineups with a crowded frontcourt but he projects to bring similar skills as Adebayo. His exact role and playing time remains to be seen but the Heat could have gotten a great addition if Achiuwa can develop as Adebayo did.