From now until the end of time (or seemingly that long), there will be a segment of the NBA population that believes the Atlanta Hawks are in dire need of a "real" center. That thinking often seeps through in mock drafts, as the team has been linked to Vanderbilt's Damian Jones, Maryland's Diamond Stone and even European big man Ante Zizic during the 2016 NBA Draft process.
The narrative persists.
DraftExpress released their latest 2016 mock update on Monday, June 13 and because they regularly change their overall projections, we've provided a screen-shot of their newest Hawks pick here. Spoiler alert: It is Bosnian 7-footer Ivica Zubac.
Zubac is a legitimate first-round talent, as he rates as the number 25 overall player by ESPN and the number 20 overall player by DraftExpress itself. At 7-foot-1, Zubac plays even bigger than that, using a 7-foot-4 wingspan to effectively score in the post and he would certainly provide the skeleton of a "true" center in that he enjoys operating around the rim.
However, there would be real questions about his ability to work defensive in Atlanta's system (or any NBA system in today's landscape) because of concerns about his foot speed. There are a handful of centers who can succeed on that end without elite athleticism (Marc Gasol, for instance), but Zubac's rebounding and rim protection numbers are less than stellar, lending real uncertainty on that end of the floor.
Zubac does present upside, though, as he is only 19 years old with very limited experience, to the point where he has appeared in only 11 games across two seasons in the Adriatic League. He fits the profile of a "draft and stash" player should the Hawks move in that direction, but at the same time, Atlanta already has a long-term project at center in Edy Tavares and that could play into the team's thinking, at least to some degree.