NBA Analyst Raises Concern About Rising Knicks Big Man

Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa

Getty Precious Achiuwa #5 of the New York Knicks reacts after scoring during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers.

As Precious Achiuwa continues his transformation from a mere throw-in to a steal for the New York Knicks, ESPN analyst Tim Legler raised a valid concern.

“I don’t know how Tom Thibodeau is going to keep this guy’s minutes down when [Julius] Randle comes back,” Legler said on the “All NBA” podcast. “I know how important Julius Randle is. And they just added [Bojan] Bogdanovic, who’s really a [power forward]. I guess you could play him some at [small forward]. Precious Achiuwa is a prototypical [power forward]. And I’m curious to see what Thibodeau is gonna do.”

Achiuwa, who was part of the OG Anunoby trade, has been holding the fort for the injured Randle (dislocated right shoulder).

On Thursday, February 22, the 24-year-old Achiuwa logged his third double-double and fourth double-digit rebounding in the Knicks’ last five games. He had 18 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block to help the Knicks get back on the winning track with a 110-96 rout of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The 6-foot-8 Achiuwa has been the biggest revelation for the Knicks amid their rash of injuries.

In February, Achiuwa leads the league in minutes, averaging 41.3 per game, and no. 3 in offensive rebounds with 5.4 per game, which makes him so valuable in Thibodeau’s system.

“This is yeoman’s work and he never gives up on the offensive glass. He’s a relentless defender. He finishes around the rim,” Legler said.

Bogdanovic also proved his worth by knocking down 22 points on a perfect 6 of 6 3-point shooting.

Suddenly, the Knicks have a logjam at power forward after they started the season with the undersized Josh Hart as Randle’s backup.

‘Good Problem to Have’

When the Knicks get healthy, Thibodeau will only have 96 minutes to spread among Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Isaiah Hartenstein, Achiuwa and Bogdanovic.

“It might be a good problem to have all that depth, but it’s also going to be challenging for [Thibodeau],” Legler said. “And I’m really curious to see what they do with Precious Achiuwa because I have a feeling if they cut his minutes, it won’t be for long.”

Legler, who will call the Knicks-Boston Celtics game on Saturday on ESPN radio, knows how Knicks fans appreciate players like Achiuwa.

“I can’t wait to see this guy up close and see their team up close and see the energy in that building and he provides a lot of that,” Legler said. “So I just thought people aren’t paying attention to this guy’s numbers and what he’s been doing for the Knicks. It’s pretty astonishing, man!”

Hometown Hero

Achiuwa, who will become a restricted free agent this summer, has embraced playing hero for his adopted city.

Moving to the Bronx from Nigeria during his eighth grade, Achiuwa is living the dream of playing the best stretch of his young basketball career in the city that nurtured his love for the sport.

“It’s been really, really fun. And I’m just happy that we came out and handled the business we’re able to come up with a win,” Achiuwa said during his MSG Network postgame interview following their big win in Philadelphia.

Achiuwa’s versatility is his calling card. He played center when the Knicks went small. He shifted to power forward when Thibodeau rolled with Hartenstein, who is on minute restriction while dealing with Achilles soreness, as the center.

“I’ve been able to play multiple positions not just offensively but defensively — I can guard 1-2-3-4-5 (all positions from point guard to center) — which speaks my versatility on both sides of the ball,” Achiuwa said.


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