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NBA Mock Draft 2017: ESPN’s Chad Ford projects Justin Patton to Atlanta Hawks

This seems plausible.

Oral Roberts v Creighton Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

With the NBA Draft just hours away, everyone wants to know who the Atlanta Hawks will select with the No. 19 overall pick. There is, of course, intrigue for the team’s second round selections but the spotlight of the day shines on No. 19 and the entire NBA world is just guessing at this point.

ESPN’s Chad Ford has weighed in, though, as he released his “Mock Draft 8.0” on Thursday morning. Within the contents of that projection, Ford sends Creighton big man Justin Patton to the Hawks at No. 19 and says the following in his explanation:

The Hawks shipped Dwight Howard off to the Hornets on Tuesday in a deal that netted them Miles Plumlee. It has created a major gap in the middle that the Hawks will eventually have to fill.

With Paul Millsap hitting free agency, it looks as if their entire frontcourt could turn over. Patton is raw, but there is so much talent there. He runs the floor well, has a soft touch, plays with efficiency in the paint and can even stretch the floor. He's worth a gamble here.

Ford also indicates that Texas big man Jarrett Allen, International big man Anzejs Pasecniks and North Carolina center Tony Bradley could be “potential draftees” for Atlanta at No. 19 and he projects Valparaiso forward Alec Peters at No. 41 overall. In addition, Patton has been a staple in this position for ESPN’s draft expert.

As for Patton, the offensive upside is certainly intriguing given the way that he played at the college level. In fact, it would be tough to argue that any one-and-done center combines the skill set that Patton can bring to the table on that end of the floor.

With that said, there are justified concerns about his defense given a relative lack of athletic burst and problems that could cause in an increasingly smaller, quicker NBA. Patton is certainly a reasonable pick at No. 19, though not one that would garner universal approval.

Stay tuned.