Ajinca came off the bench and produced five points (2-4 FG, 1-2 FT), six rebounds, one steal and one block across 15 minutes in Thursday's 114-111 preseason loss to the Magic.
Though Pelicans coach intimated early in training camp that Omer Asik, the team's primary starter at center last season, could be at risk of losing his job on the top unit, it doesn't look like that will be the case to begin the 2016-17 campaign. Asik ended up starting the Pelicans' final four preseason games, suggesting he'll retain the top gig at center while Ajinca settles for backup duties. Ajinca figures to get starting chances at various points in the season in the likelihood that Asik struggles to produce, but neither player will benefit from a consistent 30-minute role. Gentry often prefers to deploy starting power forward Anthony Davis at center during extended stretches of games, which will keep plodders like Ajinca and Asik off the floor in favor of mobile floor-stretching big men Terrence Jones and Dante Cunningham.
Ajinca (back) received 14 minutes in Wednesday's 116-104 loss to the Rockets in an exhibition game played in Beijing, China.
Back spasms kept Ajinca on the sideline in Sunday's matchup with the Rockets during the first game of the two teams' China series, but he was back on the court Wednesday, albeit in a limited capacity. While he saw the same amount of playing time as Omer Asik, who started at center in the contest, Ajinca didn't make a positive impression, turning the ball over four times and committing three fouls. Asik didn't fare particularly well either, so the job battle between the two figures to drag on through the rest of the preseason. Neither player represents an especially appealing fantasy option.
Ajinca (back) is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game against the Rockets, Justin Verrier of ESPN reports.
After being listed as probable, but did not play in the team's last preseason game against the Rockets, and it looks like he could be headed towards another game where he sits out. Ajinca is currently fighting with fellow center Omer Asik for the starting job, and after Asik posted 14 points and 14 rebounds in Ajinca's absence Sunday, the battle between the two likely tightened up. Should Ajinca's health continue to hold him out, Asik could benefit from more time on the floor.
Ajinca was listed as probable to play heading in to the contest, so it sounds as though his back problems aren't overly severe and his absence may have been mostly precautionary. The big man had started both of the Pelicans' first two games at center, but Omer Asik, his competition for the starting role, had a big game in Ajinca's place Sunday, posting 14 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. That outing likely tightened the job battle between the two, so the performance of both players over the remainder of the preseason schedule will likely determine who receives the nod in the regular season opener.
Ajinca started at center and supplied seven points (3-4 FG, 1-2 FT) and eight rebounds across 19 minutes in Tuesday's 113-96 preseason loss to the Pacers.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry hinted early in training camp that Omer Asik wasn't a lock to open the season in a starting role, and he's certainly backed that up by tabbing Ajinca as his starting center in the team's first two preseason games. Ajinca hasn't produced standout numbers in either contest, but at 7-foot-2 and with a reliable stroke from the free-throw line, he might bring more to the table than Asik, who struggled mightily last season. Neither of the two are expected to see enough playing time to make waves in fantasy leagues, however, as Anthony Davis frequently sees extended time at center during games while the Pelicans play small ball.
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