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Donovan Clingan’s impressive Draft Combine numbers spark major buzz

Donovan Clingan is going to the NBA after two great seasons in the UConn basketball program. It’s not certain where he will go in the 2024 NBA Draft but he is expected to be drafted highly, especially as he continues to impress in the pre-draft process.

Prospects are looking to make their mark at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. The workout and scrimmages can go a long way in getting them drafted higher. For a player like Clingan, it can be a big way to prove he has the physical tools to be great at the next level.

At the combine, Clingan showed some impressive mobility, shot the ball well and measured in at 282 pounds and 7-foot-2 without shoes with a 7-foot-7 wingspan. The UConn star lagged behind other bigs such as Zach Edey, Alex Sarr and Kel’el Ware in the sprint and max vertical but still had a promising showing that should bolster his draft stock.

UConn center Donovan Clingan impresses at NBA Draft Combine

The fact that Clingan shot so well from beyond the arc is impressive but not indicative of any legitimate in-game shooting skills. He barely took long-range shots in college and was a bad free-throw shooter, which suggests he has a lot of work to do in refining his shooting touch.

Fortunately for Clingan, his shooting won’t be analyzed to a crazy degree. His draft stock is built around his impeccable defense. He used his size to pulverize opposing offenses in college at the rim but was mobile enough to contain ball-handlers in the pick-and-roll and cover ground in the paint. While it remains to be seen what he can do on offense, he should at least be a nice lob threat and has good passing vision from the high post.

Clingan is probably not going to be drafted first overall but he makes sense in most other spots. Teams at the top of the draft often prefer to take swings on guys with huge upside, which Clingan may not rank super high in compared to the rest of the field. Younger players with more athletic potential or perimeter-oriented games like Sarr, Zaccharie Risacher, Nikola Topic and fellow UConn standout Stephon Castle have styles of play that seemingly give them more of a chance to become stars.

But if a team is looking for a player who seems very likely to be impactful in the short term and long term, Clingan is the right guy to target. Even though he doesn’t have any positional flexibility, he plays the one position he has at a very high level.

The Memphis Grizzlies could offer him a spot next to Jaren Jackson Jr., forming a great defensive frontcourt. If the San Antonio Spurs want to go all-in on having size, they could pair Clingan with Victor Wembanyama (and still add a frontcourt player since they have two top-eight picks). Even the Washington Wizards at the second pick could look to fortify their center position with Clingan if Sarr is taken first overall, which many draft experts believe is the most likely outcome. The Portland Trail Blazers could do the same and ditch Deandre Ayton for the younger, defensive-minded Clingan.

The NBA Draft will be held at the Barclays Center on June 26 and 27. Donovan Clingan is likely to be one of the first players announced as a new batch of players enter the league.

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