Mavericks trade up in draft to select cousin of former Dallas center

Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd, Nico Harrison
Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd, Nico Harrison / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Going into the second round of the 2024 NBA Draft, no one knew what the Dallas Mavericks were going to do.

The only rumor around the Mavs was that the Mavs were interested in Bronny James, but those rumors quickly died during the draft as ESPN reported that Rich Paul was forcing Bronny's way to a certain team. That team later ended up being the Lakers, but that didn't stop Dallas from improving their roster.

Considering Dallas' second-round pick was extremely late, they decided to trade up in a deal with the New York Knicks to snag a prospect that they seemed to have wanted badly.

Dallas Mavericks trade up to draft Melvin Ajinca

Dallas traded up to the No. 51 overall pick to draft Melvin Ajinca, a 6-foot-8 wing from France. Melvin is the cousin of former Mavericks center Alexis Ajinca. Ajinca played professionally for the Saint-Quentin BB in LNB Pro A.

Dallas traded the No. 58 pick and cash considerations to the Knicks to make this move happen according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon.

Ajinca averaged 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.7 assists per game, and he has impressive intangibles. Standing at 6-foot-8 and having a 6-foot-7 wingspan, he has the body to be an elite big wing in the NBA.

Ajinca is a left-handed 3-and-D wing, and his ability to create off the dribble for himself is impressive. He can hit mid-range jumpers off the dribble or go finish at the rim with a slam. Dallas covets wings who can create, and that was clear at the trade deadline. Ajinca has the ability to be that over time, and he is a fun prospect.

Although Ajinca is a bit raw, his game is intriguing. His jump shot is streaky, but he can drill threes off the dribble or off the catch. He plays with all of the confidence in the world, and Mavs fans should be excited about his potential.

Ajinca has all the tools to be a good defender at the next level, and his size and athleticism back that up.

He may not be someone who contributes right away for the Mavs, but Nico Harrison's expertise should be trusted. Harrison has been elite in the draft and free agency ever since he's been with the Mavs, and Ajinca could pan out to be a rotation player in Dallas over time.

For all the latest on Nico Harrison, Melvin Ajinca, and the Dallas Mavericks all offseason long, stay tuned.