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Ajinca Update: He’s big in Maine

Posted by Sup on January 28, 2010

I mentioned Alexis Ajinca a couple of days ago, noting his triple double in a Maine Red Claws game. Well, he’s still doing work:

Alexis Ajinca had 25 points, 16 boards and four blocks. This man has been on a tear as of late. If he wasn’t already in the NBA, I’d put him at the top of our call-up rankings. Especially because he does it in limited minutes due to constant foul trouble.

h/t Ridiculous Upside

Again, I have to note that this is not happening against top flight competition. The D-League is populated with a lot of end of the bench type big men and guards struggling to get that next callup. Not to demean what they can do: Sundiata Gaines won a game for the Utah Jazz just two weeks ago. But these guys aren’t in the League for good reasons.

That being said, Ajinca’s recent production has to be encouraging for the Bobcats organization. When he was drafted, it was well known that he was a project, and would require a lot of coaching up and patience. Larry Brown was hugely disappointed in Ajinca’s work ethic and attitude over the summer and at the beginning of the season. When talking about Ajinca’s lack of strength and propensity to foul, Brown said “He says, ‘Bad calls.’ Now he’s in the D-League, figuring out he has the same shortcomings there, in terms of physicality.” The demotion to the D-League affiliate Red Claws was necessary for Ajinca to get playing time there was no way he would get with the big club. And it looks like it is paying off.

I’m not completely sold yet: the little bits of video I have seen of Ajinca show a big guy who still struggles to get up and down the floor. But what he is learning is how to use his size against smaller men to get better shots, and more importantly, to alter the opposition’s shots and command the paint.

The grand gamble in signing on for Ajinca’s extension was that if he made some serious strides, he could slide in as a backup 4 behind Boris Diaw, giving a different look and additional defensive length. It’s still not a sure thing. But the chances are getting better.


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