In a game, or over a season, Precious Achiuwa is worth waiting for

Precious Achiuwa is so crucial for these Raptors that slow starts -- to games or seasons -- are worth overlooking.

It didn’t seem like much, to start. He didn’t play in the first quarter, coming into the game at least eighth in the rotation, behind Christian Koloko and Juancho Hernangomez. Only four minutes the other night, 10 the next outing. A humble beginning. It seems, sometimes, like he has to learn the game of basketball anew every time he steps on the floor, Memento with lower stakes -- okay, what am I doing?. Oh, I’m chasing this guy in transition defense, turnaround, run the other way, No, he’s chasing me. 

It didn’t take long for Precious Achiuwa to put the puzzle pieces in place. Thus far, he's always figured it out eventually. At first, the dial was set to attack: every time Achiuwa sniffed the ball, he galloped to the rim, or tried to. At first, he juked into the paint and lofted a seven-foot hook layup that missed by eight feet. Okay, slow start. 

But then a drive from the corner, bursting past his defender as he goes middle, switching hands to get to the rim -- but blowing the layup. Closer.

A step backwards: a defensive rebound and mad dash to the paint, spinning into a double team and getting stripped. Calibrating, though. Simply calibrating. Remembering what works and what doesn’t. 

“It was shaky,” said Nick Nurse of Achiuwa's initial stint, “but it was aggressive shaky. Probably overly aggressive.”

Then, though: Then it clicks in place, the moment of eureka. He hits an above-the-break triple. Then a corner triple drips through the net the second he touches it. Later, a pick and roll with Pascal Siakam, he pops, cashes another triple. Forces a timeout. He is now obliterating the defense. 

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