18. Atlanta Hawks (via Sacramento Kings) select Melvin Ajinca
The Kings owe the Hawks their first-round pick from the Kevin Huerter trade in 2022. Both teams expect to be in the playoffs, so Atlanta will likely have two selections in this range. The Hawks want to keep their spending in check, so drafting two young talents on affordable contracts will help. Expect them to shoot for upside with at least one of the picks.
Ajinca should be ready to jump into the rotation quickly. The 6’7 wing helped France win the silver at the under-19 World Cup this summer and is in his fourth professional season. Through six games, he is averaging 9.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists in 22.2 minutes per contest. Ajinca shot 38.8 percent from 3-point range in 2023 and profiles as a steady 3-and-D wing with upside.
The Hawks need skilled and switchable defenders around Trae Young. Ajinca competes hard on that end and can guard multiple positions. He has room to grow as a ball-handler and playmaker. The 19-year-old has shown flashes in those areas and could raise his ceiling if he keeps improving.
The Atlanta Hawks cannot pass up a rotation-ready wing who fills a need. Melvin Ajinca could vault up draft boards if he showcases improved playmaking, hits over 40 percent from 3-point range, and expands his role in the French league.