Prospect No. 4 – Noah Clowney, F/C, Alabama
Noah Clowney is more of a prospect that would need some development and patience but could be an excellent selection for the Blazers later in the first round with the Knicks’ pick. Clowney has already shown glimpses of his potential as a solid defender in the NBA. His NBA ceiling comparison may be Nic Claxton.
Claxton was a second-round pick and relatively raw coming out of college. He also has a similar frame as Clowney; Claxton is listed at 6-11, 215 pounds, while Clowney is 6-10, 210 pounds. Now at 23 years old, Claxton is entering the conversation for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, primarily because he combines rim protection with the ability to make life difficult when switched out to smaller guards on the perimeter.
Clowney may never be a reliable scorer, but he doesn’t need to be, given the Blazers’ many scoring options. Jusuf Nurkic is great on offense as Portland’s center, but they’re still missing that element of a defensive-minded big that can guard multiple positions when needed.
The only question is, how long will Portland wait for Clowney to develop? They may feel more of a sense of urgency to win now, given Lillard is 32 years old. But if they have two first-round picks, it could make more sense to take a long-term flier on one of them.