July 18, 2024

Grade the Trade: Mavericks Pull Off Unexpected Draft Day Move with Knicks

The Dallas Mavericks began the 2024 NBA Draft with the No. 58 and final pick but ended up trading their pick and cash considerations to the New York Knicks to move up and select French forward Melvin Ajinca at No. 51. Ajinca has professional experience in France with Saint-Quentin Basket-Ball in the LNB Pro B. In exchange, the Knicks acquired German big man Ariel Hukporti.

Both teams aim to deepen their rosters, preparing for a potential championship contention in the 2024-25 season. Ajinca’s development is a focal point for Dallas, complementing the progress of Olivier Maxence-Prosper, who has shown promise since his rookie year in 2023-24. Mavericks GM Nico Harrison has a track record of developing young talent and bringing in veteran stars, like Kyrie Irving, creating a balanced mix of youth and experience. The Knicks, on the other hand, scored a significant win by trading for Mikal Bridges, a move that could potentially influence the Mavericks to bring back Dorian Finney-Smith if the Nets initiate a fire sale.

This trade will enhance both teams’ bench depth and aid in the development of their young players. Injuries often necessitate deeper rotations, as seen with the Knicks during the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

Grading the Trade for the New York Knicks

The Knicks bolster their depth with the acquisition of Ariel Hukporti. Their big-man rotation, featuring Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein, has been solid, but Hukporti offers a raw talent that could develop significantly. With Hartenstein potentially leaving as an unrestricted free agent, Hukporti provides valuable insurance. The Knicks continue their trend of acquiring Villanova alumni, adding Bridges to their roster.

The Knicks and Mavericks have a history of trading players, and recent rumors suggested former Knicks guard Quentin Grimes, now with the Detroit Pistons, might join the Mavericks if Tim Hardaway Jr. was traded. While Mavs fans anticipated a trade involving Hardaway, Dallas instead chose to move up in the draft.

Grade the Trade: Mavericks pull off unexpected draft day move with Knicks

Hukporti could earn a spot on the Knicks roster, particularly if Robinson or Hartenstein are unavailable. Coach Tom Thibodeau might call on Hukporti early in the season.

Grading the Trade for the Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks benefit from acquiring a versatile wing player in Ajinca. In the 2023-24 season, Dallas lacked players who could offer defensive versatility outside of a few key role players. Ajinca provides size at the three, can create his own shot, drive to the rim, and shoot from beyond the arc.

GM Nico Harrison highlighted Ajinca’s athleticism and shooting ability. Ajinca averaged 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and shot 36 percent from three-point range, potentially addressing the Mavericks’ perimeter shooting deficiencies observed in the 2024 NBA Finals.

Overall, this trade bolsters both teams’ bench depth and development prospects, preparing them for future challenges and potential injuries.

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