Kudos to Draftexpress for nailing the pick on their latest mock (he was the 21st best prospect on the big board). With the 30th pick in the NBA draft, the Golden State Warriors went back to Vanderbilt and came away with another big center: Damian Jones.
Warriors draft Damian Jones
Jones measured 6'11.5" in shoes, and a solid 244 pounds at this year's Nike skills camp -- a far cry from the svelte 210-pounders who made up the lottery. The All-SEC performer averaged 13.9 points and 6.9 rebounds this season, while shooting a career-best 59% from the floor in just over 26 minutes per game.
A high character kid by all accounts, Jones also sports a bit of a post-up game, and could be developed into a positive shooter out to mid-range. But while Jones appears a bit more polished than big brother Festus Ezeli as a rookie, he similarly looks less instinctive on the defensive end. Draftexpress notes that he was never as dominant as his size profile indicated he should be on the defensive glass, whether grabbing rebounds or contesting shots. Jay Bilas added that he would like to see Jones develop more of a mean streak, particularly on defense.
We'll have more analysis on Damian Jones as we get it, but right now, the early returns are very favorable.
With the 30th pick in the 2016 #NBADraft, the Warriors select Damian Jones out of Vanderbilt University.— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) June 24, 2016
New Warriors super long center Damian Jones may be the most athletic big man in the draft and was an engineering major in college.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) June 24, 2016
Vanderbilt center Damian Jones might be the best value pick in this mid-20's range.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 24, 2016
Thunder make waves
The biggest news of the day came when the Orlando Magic donated generously to the Oklahoma City championship charity. The Magic sent Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and rookie Domantas Sabonis to the Thunder in return for veteran Serge Ibaka. The move clears a substantial cap hold for OKC right away, while better preparing them for the future -- with or without Kevin Durant.
The Thunder were rumored to have interest in a trade involving Ibaka all afternoon, and they made good on their promise midway through the first quarter. The new look Thunder feature a highly skilled rookie big man in Sabonis, son of the legendary Berlin Wall-breaking hall of famer, Arvydas Sabonis, and a very talented two-way guard in Oladipo. While Ibaka was a big part of Oklahoma City's success in recent years, his role was waning with the rise of Steven Adams.
Despite being a mobile, three point shooting shot blocker (sounds grand, right?), the numbers just don't bear it out. Ibaka ranked as the 24th best power forward in the NBA by ESPN RAPM, at a meager 0.89. That ranks him just ahead of players like Darrell Arthur and Spencer Hawes.
The move potentially does two things: it gives the Thunder another effective wing defender to harass the Splash Brothers, for one. But perhaps more importantly, it gives Kevin Durant a really strong reason not to leave for greener pastures. A core of Durant, Oladipo, Adams and Westbrook is still hell on wheels, and much tougher to attack, defensively. First impression? With Westbrook and Durant potentially drawing attention, Oladipo can be that reliable third scoring option at guard that the Thunder seem hellbent on never having (James Harden, Reggie Jackson). And Sabonis could be a stud, too.
The Thunder just got a little bit better, and a bit younger.
Great trade for NBA okc Thunder congrats - Lil B— Lil B THE BASEDGOD (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) June 24, 2016
Ibaka complained when Westbrook was a ballhog and his shots dwindled. Huge offensive loss for OKC https://t.co/whUrMWjOGo— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) June 24, 2016
Love Domantas Sabonis. As a Washingtonian, don't love the OKC Thunder. At all.— Slipper Still Fits (@slipperstillfit) June 24, 2016