NBA Draft Profile: Vanderbilt C Damian Jones

Damian Jones
Position: C
Height: 7-0
Weight: 244
Team: Vanderbilt

After a strong sophomore campaign with the Commodores, big things were expected of Jones during his junior season. Unfortunately, Jones' numbers were just about the same, and Vanderbilt lost during the First Four play-in game to Wichita State (he was hampered by foul trouble and held to five points). He did earn first-team SEC honors during both seasons. 

Jones, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana native, oddly declared his intention to enter the NBA draft before the 2015-16 started. He is one of the only true centers that are likely to go in the first round.

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Strengths
Jones has excellent measurables: 6-foot-11½ with shoes, 7-3 wingspan, 8-11 standing reach. What's good about his physical profile is that he also has a little bulk (244 pounds) with room to grow, and is still athletic and explosive (37-inch vertical). He also possesses quick foot, showing the ability to hang with guards in pick and roll situations.

He displays decent touch around the rim and finishes more often than not. He led the SEC, shooting 59 percent from the field. His per 40-minute numbers are staggering: 21.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

Weaknesses
He looks really awkward when he runs the floor. While he flashes the touch, it's not nearly consistent enough. He doesn't have any type of repertoire in the post. His offensive instincts aren't great. He's not a good free-throw shooter. He shot 60 percent in 2014-15 but that number was down to 54 percent this season. That led to team's using the "hack-a-Shaq" technique and Jones leading the SEC in free throws attempted.

He's not great instinctually on the defensive end either. While he has a lot of the physical characteristics you look for in an elite defender/rim protector, he still has to understand the game better. He also averaged five fouls per 40 minutes.

How he'd fit with the Sixers
If the Sixers trade away Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, Jones could look good at No. 24 or 26. If not, they'd be wise to stay away.

NBA comparison
I'm not sure Jones will ever be an elite big man, but he could definitely be a solid rotation player like fellow Vanderbilt alumnus Festus Ezeli, now of the Golden State Warriors. Although I'd say that Jones has flashed more potential on the offensive end. 

Draft projection
Jones will likely go in the mid-to-low 20's.
 

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