The Atlanta Hawks have been tied to Vanderbilt center Damian Jones in at least one previous mock draft, but the potential marriage was discussed again on Tuesday. Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports released his latest mock projection, and with the number 21 overall pick, he sent Jones to the Hawks as Al Horford insurance.
The Hawks could lose Al Horford this season, leaving them a bit thin at center. Jones would give them a bit of a different look in regard to Tiago Splitter and Walter Tavares, as he's more of an explosive athlete than either of the two. He still has quite a bit of work to do on his game, but there would be much to like about this pick.
As noted by Vecenie, Jones' chief appeal is his athletic explosion as a legitimate 7-footer, and it is at least somewhat surprising that he isn't projected to go higher in this year's draft. Still, Jones does have considerable warts in that he is (very) raw offensively with some questions about his motor and overall skill level.
Reliable information about Al Horford's next contract (and where he'll play) isn't readily available, leading many to speculate on the Hawks potentially adding a project big man with the number 21 pick, and that does make some sense. For as much as Atlanta fans enjoy the work of Edy Tavares, he likely does not project as a full-time starter, and if the Hawks are internally resigned to the fact that Horford could move on, investing through the draft would be an interesting way to build at the center position.
Damian Jones probably won't be the most skilled player available (and he definitely won't be the safest pick) when the Hawks go on the clock on June 23, but as an athletic 7-footer from a major college, he'll certainly gain some attention.