Throughout the week, Ajinca was certainly one of the more interesting prospects to observe, though also probably the most frustrating at the same time. On one hand, you have a 71 player with a 79 wingspan. Freakish athleticism in addition to nice range on his jumper, and a soft hook shot inside make the French big man a potential lottery pick down the road. At the same time, he only weighs 207 pounds and still seems to be adapting to the size of his body. Weak hands led to a lot of turnovers here, and its a struggle for him to play against anyone with a little bulk who likes to be physical.
During the week in practice, Ajinca looked great at times and horrible during other stretches. In the first couple of practices, he used his length and athleticism inside while throwing down multiple jaw-dropping dunks. With his back to the basket, he struggled with both ball-handling and footwork, but he can make a soft, high arching hook shot when given a little bit of space.
In the practices later in the week, it was often a battle for Ajinca when it came to catching the ball in the paint, and he clearly struggled trying to dribble next to smaller players in the paint. He seemed to become less confident as the week went along, despite some amazing flashes that few people on this planet are physically capable of.
The game on Saturday further emphasized Ajincas position as a raw project with a great deal of potential. He missed an open look at a three off a pick and roll early in the game, and followed it up by losing the ball out of bounds on a spin move. A flash-cut inside led to a lay-up finish, plus a free throw for the French big man, but that was followed by a turnover when he decided to handle the ball in transition. Ajinca did show his explosive athletic ability on a pick and roll play, where he dunked the ball with authority over Patrick Patterson
At this point in time, Ajinca appears to be more comfortable playing while facing the basket. He would much rather shoot the three pointer than bang inside, and his hook-shot remains more of a face-up type move since he lacks the footwork to use it in the post. When asked what position hed like to play in the NBA, Ajinca mentioned that he sees himself as a 3 or 4. If he develops his body, he could become a match-up nightmare at the 5 if you allow him face the basket against slower centers. In regards to playing the 3, there is currently no player in the NBA who plays the small forward position at 7 feet tall or larger, as that just isnt feasible from a defensive standpoint.
From watching the practices and the game, it is obvious to conclude that Ajinca needs more time in Europe to develop his body and translate his natural ability to in-game situations. We can only hope he discovered the American buffet line during his time spent in Memphis, because any bulk will help at this point in time. The development of Alexis Ajinca
is certainly worth following, and the potential payoff of some well invested time with the Frenchman could be huge.