Knicks’ underrated big-man has filled a huge void in the lineup

New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots the ball over Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) in the fourth quarter at KIA Center
Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks had several boxes to check by the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline. The team longed for a third All-Star, needed fast, efficient outside shooters, and had no natural power forward behind Julius Randle.

The trade that sent OG Anunoby to New York also brought Precious Achiuwa along with him. The 6-9 big man, who saw much time at center with the Toronto Raptors, has played well in a reserve role at the four.

Knicks: Precious Achiuwa prefers the four slot but will do whatever’s needed to help generate wins

Achiuwa has played so well that his contribution to their torrid winning pace prior to their pre-All-Star break four-game skid got the notice it deserved. Per Peter Botte of the New York Post, Achiuwa responded to the attention his play had garnered by saying this about his natural position and his willingness to help the team at all costs:

“I’m definitely more of a 4 than a 5 … but it don’t matter to me,” Achiuwa said. “For me, it’s doing whatever it takes to get a win…I don’t really care about all the extra stuff, just do what I got to do to put us in a better position to win. Whether it’s setting screens, rebounding the ball, guarding the best player on the other team, steals, blocks – whatever it takes to win basketball games, that’s what I’m really looking forward to doing.”

Whether at power forward or center, coming off the bench is not the only area where Achiuwa has impressed.

In his last five starts, including the Knicks’ most recent 14-point win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Achiuwa has put up 15.4 points and 12.8 boards per contest. He’s now the second Knicks big after Isaiah Hartenstein to fill in admirably for the injured Mitchell Robinson and has slid over to the four in spurts with Randle battling a dislocated shoulder.

Achiuwa’s career numbers in New York offer strength to a strong Knicks frontcourt at 100 percent health

His latest stretch has only furthered his career-highs in rebounds (7.4 RPG), blocks (1.0 BPG) and steals (0.6 SPG).

At full strength, the Knicks will boast four big men who bring a range of skill sets to the table. Achiuwa’s presence on the glass coupled with his fluidity in the passing lanes and touch at the rim make him the quintessential backup four that they’ll need come playoff time.

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