Alexis Ajinca profile
Drafted #20 in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Hornets
Height: 7'1" (216 cm)
Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
Position: C
Hometown: Saint-Etienne, France
Current Team: ASVEL
Win - Loss: 3 - 1
Alexis Ajinca 2013 Scouting Video


Revisiting Alexis Ajinca (Scouting Video)

Mike Schmitz
Mike Schmitz
Dec 18, 2013, 10:05 am
Alexis Ajinca has established himself as a force in European basketball since his last stint in the NBA. His strong play in the Euroleague this season and in the European Championships with France last summer convinced the New Orleans Pelicans to buy out his contract in Strasbourg.

How has he the 7-footer evolved since the 2010-2011 season and what can he be expected to bring to the table for the New Orleans Hornets?

Mike Schmitz takes a detailed look at his strengths and weaknesses in the following scouting video:

D-League Showcase: Day Two

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Jim Hlavac
Jim Hlavac
Matt Williams
Matt Williams
Joseph Treutlein
Joseph Treutlein
Richard Walker
Richard Walker
Jan 06, 2010, 03:11 pm
Any time Alexis Ajinca steps onto the floor, it is hard not to take notice. Towering above most D-League post players, Ajinca has packed on some weight to his upper-body, but remains very skinny, especially in his lower body. His tremendous wingspan allow him to block shots at a high rate, but his fundamentals down low leave a lot to be desired, and his lack of bulk allows more aggressive post players to push him beneath the rim and neutralize his size advantage.

Ajinca’s two contests in Boise were a very apt representation of many of his strengths and weaknesses,. Fouling out in just 20 minutes in the first game and committing five fouls in 19 minutes in his second, Ajinca showed how raw he remains on the defensive end. He’s appeared tentative at times in both of Maine’s games here, but still managed to block a total of 4 shots and alter a handful of short range attempts. His length affords him the opportunity to contest shots that many other players can’t, but he’s still honing that craft and learning how to cut down on his fouling.

Offensively, Ajinca flashed the talent that made him the 20th overall pick in 2008, but struggled at times as well. In his first game he finished with 5 turnovers and just 11 points, apparently playing through a minor illness. He came back strong a day later, finishing with 21 points on 9-14 from the field.

While the results of the second game were far more impressive, Ajinca made some impressive moves in both, including an essentially unblockable hook shot from the right block in the first and a pair of smooth face up drives in the second. Possessing excellent touch, Ajinca was able to overcome his lack of physical strength and toughness at times, but is still very much a work in progress as a player on both ends. The Bobcats will need to continue to foster Ajinca’s game, whether that be in Maine or Charlotte, to facilitate his development. We must keep in mind that he’s only 21 years old at this stage, and obviously still has a world of potential left to tap into.

Las Vegas Summer League Day Three

Matt Williams
Matt Williams
Jul 14, 2008, 07:07 pm
Ajinca came through with a very nice performance today. He showed tremendous touch, but is still incredibly raw. A lot of his moves look good, but they don’t turn into production. That should change over time considering his age and willingness to work hard to improve. Ajinca has range, and some footwork down low. Unfortunately, he’s going to have to gain a considerable amount of weight to utilize the latter, a difficult proposition considering how skinny he is in the lower body. That lack of bulk hurts him defensively, but his wingspan more than compensates for that deficiency on this level. Though he didn’t show great production, Ajinca is beginning to translate his potential to higher levels of play.

Nike Hoop Summit Recap: International Team

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Apr 21, 2008, 12:30 am
After struggling with the physical team USA at the 2007 Nike Hoop Summit, the second go-around produced much better results for the French big man. Ajinca showed his versatility on the offensive end early in the game, first scoring with a smooth jump-hook from the low post, and then showing his range by knocking in a couple of long range jumpers. The big man also showed off his length and a quick vertical leap while throwing down an alley-oop under the basket.

Physically, his body carries more bulk than last season, but he must put on another 15 pounds at least before he’ll have a chance at handling NBA caliber competition. This was clear on a few occasions inside, where Ajinca struggled to finish against contact and was unable to operate against double teams.

Defensively, the big man showed good potential as a shot-blocker. A wing-span of nearly 7’9” combined with good timing allowed him to block 3 shots during the game, and the guards from team USA seemed to challenge him less and less in the paint as the game progressed. His man to man defense would also benefit from added bulk on his frame.

It seems that Ajinca may take his strong performance in the Hoop Summit and enter his name in the 2008 draft. Though not ready to play the NBA game, the French big has a nice set of physical tools and skills to build upon.

U-19 World Championship Review: Big Men

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Aug 29, 2007, 01:36 am
Promise, promise, promise. It’s always the same story for Ajinca, particularly if we talk about his offensive game and physical profile. The freakishly long French big man again wasn’t able to show any kind of go-to scoring move, always falling short in terms of skills. He showed a bit of everything, either shooting, posting up or putting the ball on the floor, but never good enough to get the job done on a regular basis. Actually, perhaps he tried a bit too much. He missed every single three-pointer he took, although his accuracy noticeably improved a few steps into the arc. His mechanics don’t look bad and it’s important to stress the high point of release he uses, making his jumpers almost unstoppable.

His footwork in the low post still looks a bit unpolished, and he doesn’t have the strength to make up for it with some banging and physical play. He can convert hook shots, but still not on a regular basis. When it came to putting the ball on the floor, he struggles surviving defensive helps, as his ball-handling skills are rather poor, his dribble pretty high, and it often takes him too much time to perform the moves he pursues. He was particularly abused in the semifinal game against the US, as the quick American perimeter players were always ready to throw a hand at his dribble. It looks like we’ll have to keep waiting until he finally develops some reliable skills. For the moment, he was only really effective playing without the ball to get open looks near the basket, or scoring off offensive rebounds.

Things looked better defensively. Ajinca emerged as a very intimidating presence on the lane, blocking and changing shots. It’s unbelievable how high he can get with his length and athleticism. He’s also improving his positioning and defensive mobility, although his lateral quickness still remains pretty mediocre. He was also very helpful in the rebounding department. Despite often being outmuscled, nobody can get as high as him.

Patience and hard work, those are the right ingredients for him.

U-19 World Championship: Early Rounds

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jul 20, 2007, 06:45 am
More mixed feelings with the other top prospect in France, Alexis Ajinca (who by the way has signed with Hyeres Toulon for next season). He’s still awfully ineffective on the offensive end. Facing the basket as a power forward would do, he’s struggling badly with his perimeter stroke, and still doesn’t show good enough ball-handling skills to attack his match-up off the dribble on a regular basis. Playing down low as a center, he still suffers to get the job done. If he puts the ball on the floor to operate in the low post, defenses collapse on him and force many turnovers from him. Besides, his touch around the rim still needs work, while obviously his skinny body remains a matter of big concern. We’re still in an early stage in the long-term process of his physical development.


On the other hand, some of the stuff he displays from time to time is ridiculously impressive. We’re especially taking about the intimidation he delivers around the basket and his ability to block shots. He’s so freaking long, while also nicely athletic, that he can reject a shot from virtually at the roof, right where he sometimes comes up with some impressive rebounds. He’s gaining defensive awareness, better following his match-ups, and recognizing where and when to execute a team rotation. To summarize: still raw, still promising.

Douai Tournament, Gearing Up for Summer Competitions

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jun 09, 2007, 10:34 am
Alexis Ajinca impressed with his athleticism but completely failed to emerge as a serious offensive threat. He did little besides converting some garbage points off put-backs or easy dunks. He shot the ball from behind the arc with poor results, he rarely put the ball on the floor and his low post game still looks very unpolished. On defense he displayed great intimidation with a sick combination of length and ability to get off the ground. However, his defensive lateral quickness again got exposed, particularly when he matched-up againt Casspi. Of course we shouldn't expect Ajinca to stop the skilled Israeli forward, but he was too easily toyed with by Casspi.

Nike Hoop Summit World Team Player Recap (Part Two)

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Apr 13, 2007, 02:34 am
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 7’1” player with a 7’9” 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 it’s 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 Ajinca’s 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 he’d 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 isn’t 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.

Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (Day 4)

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Apr 07, 2007, 03:38 am
Alexis Ajinca had an up and down day, displaying immense potential but some glaring weaknesses as well. Offensively, his finishing inside was better today though the play was less physical than in the previous days. Ajinca also displayed the ability to step out and hit the jumper again, and did so in the offensive set while being guarded. At the same time, he struggled to catch the ball a few times, and turned it over under the hoop while in traffic. As we have emphasized in previous articles, strength and experience will be necessary before the French big man becomes close to achieving his potential.

Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (Day 3)

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Apr 06, 2007, 01:39 pm
Alexis Ajinca had his worst day of practice by far. On the offensive end of the floor, even catching the ball was a struggle for him. On a few occasions he did receive the ball on the perimeter, and he made a few nice passes to cutting teammates near the hoop. As a back to the basket guy, Ajinca seems out of his element and most of his great flashes of potential throughout the week have come facing the basket. The one time he received the ball open on the perimeter during the scrimmage, he displayed a good shooting stroke despite the fact that he missed. On the defensive end Ajinca’s great length came in handy on numerous occasions, as it can be hard for 6 foot guards to try and get around a 9’4” standing reach. The big thing for the French big man over the next year will be growing into his body. His coordination appears to be a work in progress at this point as well, but he remains a very interesting guy to watch considering the skills he possesses.

Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (Day 2)

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Apr 05, 2007, 05:55 pm
Alexis Ajinca had another good day, though he practiced better yesterday. The big problem for him will also be his lack of stength, unless he can put some weight on his 207 pound frame. In the 4 on 4 half court drills, he sometimes went up against Solomon Alabi in the post. Ajinca struggled to create in the post against him, and had trouble with controlling the ball in the post. Though they are using him as a primary post player here, he plays much more comfortably while facing the basket at this point. This is evident when he handles the ball with his back to the basket, as it seems forced and mechanical. Ajinca will also need to learn to finish better inside. If he has the space to dunk the ball he has no problem, but he makes a lot of nice moves inside at this point that he doesn’t convert. After practice Ajinca was shooting around, and knocked down 5 consecutive three pointers from behind the international line. A problem in the practices has been the fact that he isn’t a very good passer out of the post, likely due to the fact that he’s not used to spending a lot of time down low.

Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (day one)

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Apr 04, 2007, 12:43 am
French big man Alexis Ajinca stood out more than anyone else today. Physically, Ajinca is an absolute freak of nature, listed at 7-1 (though he appears to be 7-2) with a huge wingspan and gigantic hands. Combine these attributes with an explosive vertical leap and nimble feet, and Ajinca can be considered an intriguing prospect based on size and athleticism alone. There is a lot more to be intrigued about than just his physical attributes, though.

Offensively, he has great hands under the basket, and uses his great length to keep loose balls alive on the offensive end, as well as sky over opposing players for rebounds on the defensive end. In the practice, Ajinca played the power forward position on the offensive end, playing opposite Nigerian big man Solomon Alabi. He appeared comfortable playing on the perimeter, showing soft shooting touch on his mid-range jump-shot. Inside, the big man handled the ball comfortably in traffic as well. During the scrimmage, Ajinca did most of his damage inside by gaining position, and either driving to the hoop or going to a hook shot with great success. On one possession, he shocked everybody in the practice facility by bring the ball back behind his head with his right arm and throwing down a monster dunk.

A big weakness that Alexis Ajinca must improve is the lack of bulk on his frame. He has the frame to add weight, but he struggles to gain position against the more physically developed competition he faces in the French ProA league. If he can add weight, he has the potential to play both the 4 and 5 at the next level, and his face the basket game would be an absolute nightmare for opposing centers to guard. It will also before important for him to gain experience and prove he can apply his raw skills on the basketball court before he enters the NBA draft.

Roundup: Omri Casspi in a Heroic Victory over Maccabi

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Mar 28, 2007, 07:37 pm
Alexis Ajinca had played a grand total of 16 minutes combining both the Euroleague and French LNB. He was injured coming into the season, but being healthy for an extended period of time now, it seems that he’s not being counted on by his coach at all. It’s relatively understandable after watching him against Tau. Contrary to what he did last summer, Ajinca seems to be back to the power forward spot now, playing mostly facing the basket. Obviously, to battle under the rim with his super-skinny frame is a lost cause. However, he keeps filling out his body slowly, but steadily. He still gets outmuscled, but not as blatantly as before. Anyway, despite looking greatly intriguing with that incredibly long frame and nice mobility evolving on court, he wasn’t effective this time. He missed a couple of three-point jumpers, committed an offensive foul when he put the ball on the floor to attack a rival, and also committed a turnover when he tried to dribble past a smaller defender from his own court to solve a full-court pressure. Highly predictable stuff for a guy of his characteristics, who is clearly not used to this level of competition. That’s why Ajinca needs playing time like he needs air; he can become a freakishly amazing 7-1 PF with a great feel for the ball. Still, it’s hard to bet on a guy that will likely make you less competitive in the short term and you know will probably be gone as soon as he blossoms; meaning that he will have to convince his coach in practices to give him that playing time.

U-18 European Championship Prospects: Centers

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Sep 17, 2006, 08:56 pm
We were really looking forward to checking out Ajinca’s stage of development after the intrigue he delivered last year in Belgrade, but came away with mixed feelings about his performance. He’s the same old physical freak, a super long and skinny guy, although not as dramatically skinny as last summer. Ajinca has gained a bit of weight that has allowed him to operate near the basket, even if he still gets regularly outmuscled.

Indeed this year he has looked much more of a post guy than last summer. Perhaps we’re let our imagination go too much, though, as after all, he got little playing time back in Belgrade. But with that athleticism, those surprisingly good hands, his jumper, and the way he handled the ball the few times he showed it, we certainly got the feeling that he could evolve into a power forward with a significant face-up game.

You can’t really rely on just one competition, on one setting. Many factors chime in, like his coach’s mindset, for example. But in this championship, enjoying consistent playing time, some of that intrigue seems gone. Particularly, we have found little trace of his ball handling skills. I don’t think he faced a matchup and attacked him off the dribble even once. His shooting was still there; he regularly delivered a static jumpshot, although with quite limited accuracy.

So for the moment, we’re left with his low post game, which could be great if he managed to develop enough strength to battle with bigs at a pro stage (that’s still quite a big “if”). After all, there’s no better way to capitalize size (and wingspan) than sticking near the basket. Not being any low post dancer, the big French shows some moves to take advantage of his length, and what’s perhaps even more important, he doesn’t fear contact at all, which doesn’t mean that his game doesn’t suffer by getting regularly outmuscled. Anyway, it was a bit frustrating to see the problems he showed finishing near the basket. He rarely dunks the ball, and doesn’t feel comfortable at all releasing the ball while suffering contact. However, he will likely resolve this problem as he gets stronger, although he might lack a bit of a soft touch near the hoop.

On defense, he has surely made great strides from last summer. Now he shows decent lateral quickness (well, he has basically learned to move laterally), and delivers great intimidation that, anyway, could still be a lot better. Ajinca didn’t manage to become an intimidator against his rivals. He was a few times outsmarted by quick and skilled guys, while also outmuscled by stronger ones, although he often gets the job done regardless thanks to his incredible length.

Last summer we predicted that it would take at least two years to start figuring out where his development will take him. It’s one year already and, despite the notable improvement in some areas, it’s still awfully complicated to make any kind of prediction.

2006 Albert Schweitzer Tournament: Top Prospects

May 08, 2006, 03:13 pm
One of the biggest difference makers of the competition. With his height and his endless arms, he was the most important defensive center in Mannheim. An insurance policy for his team down low, with the discipline to know when he must take action; Ajinca blocked shots and generally acted like an insurmountable wall. Nobody scored around the rim when he was in the area, as it was impossible to make layups next to him. Besides, he enjoys a very decent perimeter shot.

Physical and Mental Characteristics:

Physically, he’s a player who is still extremely skinny, although he has gained quite a bit of weight in the last two years; he seems to be going in the right direction. His wingspan is just extraordinary. He enjoys tremendously long arms, and what’s more difficult to see around, he has good hands. He’s a long player and very coordinated for his size. But because of his lack of weight he’s limited in many situations. However, it would be a pity if he lost some quickness by bulking up excessively.

Mentally, although he seemed not to play as hard as he should in some games, in the semifinals and the finals he was very focused and managed to stay motivated. He knows his limitations, and because of his lack of weight he sometimes avoids direct contact. But he knows how to contribute in other situations.


His great intimidation ability. He’s quite a smart player, who knows where he’s dangerous and where he’s beatable. He’s a great shot-blocker, knowing how to place his hand to stop his matchup’s shot, and especially, he has a great instinct blocking on defensive rotations. It doesn’t matter if he’s on the ball’s side or comes from the weak side; he almost always arrives on time. His array of low post moves is still scarce, because of not being able to handle physicality, but he does stand out for his soft touch executing jumpers, which he regularly knocks down. He has soft mechanics, being a good free-throw shooter, which for his size is really important. He’s very fast on transitions, whether defensive or offensive, and quite coordinated. He’s smart enough to visualize the entire game.


All come as a result of his lack of weight. He gives up space against very physical players when it comes to defending them, and he rarely dares to finish with his back to the basket in the low post, in order to not lose his balance by being bumped. He sometimes lacks a bit of aggressiveness when it comes to defending the pick and roll, and because of his youth, his intensity doesn’t stay consistent all along the game. But all the mentioned flaws, with time and physical work, seem like they will be addressed.


He usually plays very open to create spaces for his teammates, who are great slashers and very versatile. His best weapon is the jump shot, although he did dare a few times to deliver a jump-hook in the low post, which looked effective. He’s not a good offensive rebounder, among other things because of how open he plays.


I insist about his intimidation ability. He can become one of the great, great intimidators world-wide in the next years. He has been extremely well taught in INSEP. With his quickness, and through receiving some vocal motivation –or as a result of a game’s own importance- he’s a good pick-and-roll defender. He’s not exactly a foul-prone type of player.


A clear NBA future. He needs a few more years, so he can improve his body. But he should bulk up proportionally. He would lose a lot of quickness if he’s forced to gain a lot of weight in little time. It shouldn’t be forgotten to work on his legs, which are extremely skinny. He will be an important player on any team.

The European Junior (U-18) Championships: The Centers

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Sep 05, 2005, 05:30 pm
Listed at 7-0, but probably on his way to 7-1 while enjoying an excellent wingspan, the surprising skill set of this kid makes him enjoy fabulous potential which is only limited by his extremely thin body and frame. He was constantly outmuscled during the tournament, greatly shortening his production and presence on court.

Anyway, Ajinca was the most athletic big man seen in Belgrade. He’s extremely quick for a guy his size, enjoying quite a good vertical, and running the floor like a wing. However, he still hasn’t figured out how to effectively translate his mobility into defensive lateral quickness. Otherwise, he’s a pretty good intimidator whenever his skinny body allows him to be, also using his wingspan to get some steals.

Besides his freakish body and athleticism, it’s stunning to see the relationship that a guy like him has with the ball. Alexis has very sensitive hands that allow him to feature some serious ball skills. Like many big Euros, he has a nice static jumper with three point range and accurate form, although it losses consistency the further he ventures from the basket. He can put the ball on the floor, even attacking his rival using his quickness, looking for a slashing movement. He can also pass the ball with good criteria and quick execution, whether from the post or facing the basket.

Even more than the games themselves, where he had trouble making his presence felt given his lack of playing time and his physical flaws, he was particularly impressive in the warm ups, showing his nice fundamentals and forward-like skills. Indeed, his skill set and athleticism might allow him to play power forward. I’m sure that his fragile body would be really thankful if it turned out that way. Nevertheless, if he keeps on growing, it could be a different story. Anyway, it’s too early to tell.

The goal for Ajinca now is to work hard on his body and start playing with grown men. It’s important to insist on his role in the junior National Team, which was very limited, not even starting the games for France. We’re talking about an extremely raw and unready player. The good news is that with the new rules in place, he can forget about the NBA draft for a couple of years. However, even this period sounds too short for guy like him, just the time to start figuring out if his development will take him anywhere. For the moment, he will spend another year at the INSEP center, where he plays in the third division French league.

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