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NBA Mock Draft 2017: ESPN projects talented big man to Atlanta Hawks

Chad Ford’s new mock makes a lot of sense.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks reportedly spent a great deal of time with Texas big man Jarrett Allen this week, as Chris Vivlamore of the AJC reports that the youngster and Atlanta’s brass spent two meals together sandwiched around a workout. Fittingly, Chad Ford of ESPN is now projecting the Hawks to pick up Allen with the No. 19 overall pick in his latest mock draft.

New GM Travis Schlenk will be tasked with trying to turn the Hawks into an East Coast version of the Warriors. Alas, there is no Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green or Klay Thompson at this point in the draft.

Allen is a terrific rebounder and shot-blocker. Plus, he's a fluid athlete. He just needs to add a lot of strength and work on his offensive game.

Allen is not a stranger to links with the Hawks in mock draft form and that makes a ton of sense. While Atlanta does have Dwight Howard at the center position in the present, there is not a building block asset for the future in the frontcourt and Allen could serve as a potential defense linchpin for Mike Budenholzer and company.

As Ford notes, there are concerns about his offensive upside and, for now, Allen is relatively frail. With that said, he profiles as a strong rim protector and isn’t completely void of skills that could translate offensively.

There is a large crop of “project” big men in this class that Allen is a part of but it would be easy to argue that he’s at the top of the heap if excluding Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen and Gonzaga’s Zach Collins. Will he be available? Perhaps not but, if so, the Hawks will have an interesting decision to make.