Blazers land draft day steal with Donovan Clingan: Instant reaction, analysis

Back-to-back NCAA national champion Donovan Clingan falls to the Blazers at No. 7.
2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Prior to the draft, Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report mentioned how the Blazers were strongly considering four prospects at No. 7: Donovan Clingan, Tidjane Salaun, Dalton Knecht, and Cody Williams. Although it's perceived to be a weak draft class, the Blazers may have found their long-term center.

With the No. 7 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers select UConn's Donovan Clingan.

Blazers snag Clingan without having to trade up

Leading up to the draft, multiple teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, among others, were rumored to be targeting Clingan. However, the teams expressing interest besides the Blazers were selecting behind them at No. 7, suggesting that someone may potentially trade up to land the UConn big man.

There was some chaos at the No. 6 selection with teams attempting to move up for Clingan in a trade with the Charlotte Hornets, but they ultimately stood pat and took a flier on Frenchman Tijane Saluan. This allowed the Blazers to get Clingan, who was viewed as the 'absolute floor' to Portland at pick No. 7 all along, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe.

The Blazers potentially could have moved up with someone like the Houston Rockets at No. 3 to secure Clingan. However, they managed to land their big man of the future without having to give up any future assets.

Clingan could anchor Blazers' defense as elite rim-protector

Clingan averaged 13 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game in his sophomore year. He's a back-to-back NCAA national champion and should bring that winning pedigree to Portland on day one. His best attribute, which should also translate immediately, is that of a rim protector. Clingan possesses elite size at 7-foot-2 and 280 pounds. He also moves his feet well for his size, allowing him to hold his own out on the perimeter.

The Blazers already have Deandre Ayton, but Clingan makes sense as the best available prospect. They should be thrilled that he fell to No. 7. Although they only have one lottery pick after trading for Washington's Deni Advija, the Blazers come away as one of the winners of the first round.