The center position is chalked full of interesting prospects in the 2016 NBA Draft, and the Atlanta Hawks end up with one in the latest mock draft from Aaron Torres of FOX Sports. Torres leaves players like DeAndre Bembry and Taurean Prince on the board in his "3.0" projection, sending Vanderbilt big man Damian Jones to Atlanta with the number 21 pick.
With Al Horford heading toward free agency, and Atlanta at least in discussions with Philly regarding a Jeff Teague for Jahlil Okafor trade, adding front-court depth seems to be a priority for the Hawks. With that in mind, Jones makes the most sense here. A big, athletic seven-footer, whose skill-set as a rebounding shot-blocker fits in nicely alongside Paul Millsap in the paint.
This is familiar rationale in that many believe Atlanta is in dire need of frontcourt depth. Personally, I disagree vehemently with this philosophy, and even if Horford elects to move on, Jones does not necessarily present real value when it comes to this draft position.
Jones does not rank favorably when it comes to advanced statistics, landing at number 62 overall in this class according to ESPN's Kevin Pelton. In addition, the 7-footer has legitimate questions about his motor, and while there is upside there when it comes to rim protection and rebounding, Jones certainly isn't ready to make an NBA impact on arrival.
Insight into Atlanta's philosophy with this particular pick is lacking because of their lack of transparency, but investing in a center that does not fit the offensive mold of Mike Budenholzer would seem to be a surprising departure. Stay tuned.