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2016 NBA Mock Draft: Could Denzel Valentine fall to the Atlanta Hawks?

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At least one current mock draft believes that a college superstar could fall in Atlanta's lap with the number 21 pick.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Former Michigan State swingman Denzel Valentine was named the Associated Press player of the year award as the best player in college basketball during the 2015-2016 season. As NBA diehards know, collegiate success is not always a predictor of NBA ability, but Valentine has largely been seen as a mid-first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, including some projections that place him firmly in the lottery.

However, the good folks at NBADraft.net do not currently feel that way, instead projecting Valentine to slip to the Atlanta Hawks with the number 21 overall pick.

Because the site does not archive previous mock drafts (see link above), we grabbed a screenshot for your viewing pleasure:

Valentine, who stands at 6-foot-6 (in shoes) and 210 pounds, is the rare example of a four-year college player that is a no-doubt first round draft choice. He brings a 6-foot-11 wingspan to the table, and while Valentine isn't an elite athlete by any stretch, he more than makes up for that with shooting ability, defensive acumen, passing vision and overall versatility.

It would be very difficult to find a player that would more seamlessly fit in to the "Hawks culture" than Valentine, and this projection would be a dream scenario to some degree. Valentine connected on 44.4% of his threes as a senior in East Lansing, and he is an example of a draft prospect who could actually have a chance to crack the rotation for a playoff-bound NBA team as a rookie.

Given the mock draft landscape (Valentine ranks as the number 12 overall player on DraftExpress, for example), it seems unlikely that the Hawks would stumble into his services. Still, it isn't impossible, and Denzel Valentine would look fantastic in volt green for the next several seasons. Stay tuned.