Knicks’ Precious Achiuwa Stepping Up In Place Of Julius Randle

Precious Achiuwa, Knicks, NBA
Jan 20, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter (34) and guard Immanuel Quickley (5) and forward Bruce Brown (11) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks were the most dominant team in the NBA in January. But, they knew some tough sledding was on the horizon when All-Star power forward Julius Randle was injured against the Miami Heat.

Randle suffered a separated shoulder in the fourth quarter of the game, which will keep him sidelined for at least a few weeks. There is optimism that the injury isn’t severe and it won’t be a season-ending injury.

Making matters worse for the Knicks is that OG Anunoby has been sidelined in the last three games Randle has missed as well. Anunoby is dealing with inflammation in his right elbow, costing him the last three games.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Precious Achiuwa & New York Knicks Updates

That has left Tom Thibodeau very short-handed at the forward spots. The entire team was going to need to step up to fill that void. Replacing an All-Star and All-NBA player is not an easy task. Josh Hart was going to be relied upon to play out of position for heavy minutes again, as he was inserted into the starting lineup the last three games.

Joining him in the starting five has been Precious Achiuwa. Many people saw Achiuwa as a throw-in as part of the package from the Toronto Raptors, along with Malachi Flynn, with Anunoby being the centerpiece.

In his first few appearances with the Knicks, it certainly felt that way. Achiuwa looked out of place at times and overmatched as the backup center. But, he has started finding his groove and looking much more comfortable as the starting power forward.

Replicating Randle’s scoring prowess was going to be impossible for Achiuwa; they aren’t close to the same player on that side of the court. But, he is carving out a role for himself offensively and producing at a high level, producing better than anyone could have hoped.

Thibodeau has expectations from his big men. They need to protect the rim and hit the offensive glass; anything else they give is gravy. Achiwau has embraced that in New York, turning into their version of Dennis Rodman. As shared by Rit Holtzman on X, Achiwua is blowing away his career numbers in those two areas with the Knicks.

Achiuwa has been logging heavy minutes since Randle went down, playing 33+ minutes in all three starts. The extra playing time has enabled him to get more comfortable on the court with his new team, as he is stuffing the stat sheet.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Precious Achiuwa & New York Knicks Updates

In those three games, Achiuwa has scored 39 points with 26 rebounds, four steals and five blocks. Against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night, he set several career highs in the contest.

The 43 minutes he played, eight offensive rebounds and 16 field goal attempts were all career-highs or tied a previous high. While his efficiency wasn’t great, as he went 5-for-16, he made his presence felt. His tip-in with just over a minute remaining in the game sent the Madison Square Garden crowd into a frenzy.

Right before that possession, Achiuwa had a huge defensive stop against his former Raptors teammate, Pascal Siakam. Siakam drove to the basket for a layup but Achiuwa met him at the rim for a block and the Knicks secured the rebound.

The versatility that Achiuwa presents defensively, as he is as comfortable switching onto the perimeter players as he is on the interior, is a huge weapon for Thibodeau to employ. He knows his role with the team and is embracing it, resulting in some excellent production in place of Randle as the starting power forward.

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