Atlanta Hawks: 3 Ways Damian Jones Can Help the Team Next Year

A quick look at how Damian Jones might impact the Atlanta Hawks next season.

The Atlanta Hawks pulled off an interesting trade on Monday that sent second-year big man Omari Spellman to the Golden State Warriors for 24-year-old big man Damian Jones and a 2026 unprotected second-round draft pick.

Spellman’s tenure with the Hawks was marred by conditioning issues and injures that stemmed from those problems but allowing him a fresh start with a team that’s still gushing with talent at their healthiest should be a wake-up call for the soon-to-be 22-year-old.

For the Atlanta Hawks, the addition of Jones is a curious one, as he is perhaps the only traditional center that the team has acquired in General Manager Travis Schlenk’s tenure. Schlenk is well-known for his attraction to big men that can shoot the three-ball, and Jones absolutely does not qualify for that – having never attempted a triple in his three-year career.

Of course, playing on a stacked Warriors squad means that Jones has only played 584 minutes in his career, and he should be given plenty of playing time as a third big behind Alex Len and Bruno Fernando.

The main way Jones will immediately impact the team is as a rim-rolling expert. The Atlanta Hawks should have tremendous spacing on the court with all of the team’s perimeter shooters, which will play to Jones’s strength as a vertical threat.

Last season, Jones put forth a whopping 72 percent true shooting percentage per Basketball Reference, as well as 1.41 points per possession according to Cleaning the Glass. Those are exceptionally efficient numbers, mostly because he was being spoon-fed lobs and putbacks by some of the best players in the NBA.

Beyond his around-the-rim scoring, Jones projects to be a solid rim protector with his 7-foot-4 wingspan. Per BBall Index, Jones had a higher Defensive Player Impact Plus/Minus than noted good defenders on the Warriors such as Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell and even Klay Thompson.

Though, again, he only played 410 minutes, Jones’s 5.1 percent block rate and 2.5 defensive box plus/minus per Basketball Reference would’ve easily been in the top 5 on the Warriors last season.

It seems likely that Jones will not be asked to do too much for the Atlanta Hawks next season: Stay active on defense, defend the rim and use his bounce and length to patrol the board and smash home dunks.

Though cutting bait on Spellman after only one season seems a bit premature, Jones could be a key piece for the team if he shows improvement next season for the Atlanta Hawks.