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Mavericks GM Nico Harrison Praises NBA Draft Pick Melvin Ajinca as ‘High Upside’ Wing

The Dallas Mavericks traded up in the 2024 NBA Draft to select Melvin Ajinca, a wing prospect they view as having a “high upside” as a player.

The Dallas Mavericks entered the 2024 NBA Draft with the 58th pick. However, they traded up to acquire the draft rights to Melvin Ajinca, who was picked 51st pick by the New York Knicks, using cash considerations, and the draft rights to Petteri Koponen, who was selected with the 30th pick in 2007.

Ajinca, a 6-foot-8 wing from France, last played for Saint-Quentin Basket-Ball. He appeared in 28 games and averaged 9.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.8 assists, shooting 37.5% from the floor, 30.9% from beyond the arc, and 79.7% on free throws.

Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison described the 20-year-old wing as having intriguing potential. “He’s really young, and he has a huge upside,” he said. “We just like the way he plays. He has a chance to be really good.”

Harrison views Ajinca as a capable 3-point shooter who can guard multiple positions and finish at the rim. The versatility he presents makes him an intriguing potential future contributor. “When you have a really good one, it opens all the options,” he said. “They can guard multiple positions. They can obviously make 3s. They can finish. It’s like a coveted position. It’s just so versatile.”

Harrison communicated a potential limitation for roster spots, which could result in Ajinca playing another season overseas as a draft and stash player or signing a two-way contract. The team has multiple options. He will play alongside Olivier-Maxence Prosper and the team’s two-way contract players at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in July.

“I think the beauty of him being a European player is that we have a lot of optionality, and I think both things are on the table,” Harrison said. “We don’t have a lot of roster spots available, so I think that’s the beauty of his age and the fact that he is playing [overseas]. We can figure it out.”

After informing Ajinca of being selected, Harrison described his reaction as being excited and praised him for having a positive attitude while being impressed with his English.

“I just told him we’re excited to bring him in and said we’re ready to go. He thanked us and he’s a great kid,” Harrison said. “Speaks amazing English. He’s really excited, so we’re excited as well.”

The NBA will run this year’s Summer League from July 12 to 22 at Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. It’ll be a prime opportunity for Ajinca to showcase his talent as the team navigates their options for utilizing roster spots.

Stick with MavericksGameday for more coverage of the Dallas Mavericks throughout the NBA offseason and of Luka Doncic at the pre-Olympic qualifier tournament in Greece.

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