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Ajinca Active vs. Clippers
Sunday, March 20
Ajinca Brings Value Beyond Box Score
The Pels signed Ajinca to a four-year contract this past offseason after two solid years in New Orleans as a reserve, but he's experienced some ups and downs this season in the midst of the team's overall struggles.
Ajinca missed the first few games of the season with a hamstring ailment, and it subsequently took some time for head coach Alvin Gentry to work him into the lineup on a regular basis, as evidenced by this tweet courtesy of ESPN's Kevin Pelton:
The Pelicans' standards for playing Alexis Ajinca are a lot higher than for giving him a 4-year contract.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) November 18, 2015
Per the Black and Blue Report (h/t Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com), however, inconsistent playing time is something Ajinca became accustomed to during the 2014-15 campaign:
I think I was impressed at how I was able to bounce back after sometimes not playing at all. I (had instances where) I'd get 20 points, and then the next game I was back on the bench. It was always up and down, but I was able to bounce back and stay strong mentally. I think it was more being mentally prepared every time before the game.
The former 2008 then-Charlotte Bobcats' first-round pick was currently averaging 4.4 points and 4.0 rebounds this season before the injury, although he has never been one to put up big numbers as primarily a bench player.
Ajinca's value to the team goes beyond numbers, as his mere presence on the floor can alter the opposition's game plan at times.
With Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson battling injuries, Ajinca's return is a welcomed sight for the Pelicans.
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