Blazers mock draft roundup: Portland prioritizes defense at pick No. 7

The Portland Trail Blazers have a trending prospect at pick No. 7 in the latest 2024 NBA mock drafts; his defensive impact could give them a new team identity.
Apr 6, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32)
Apr 6, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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The Portland Trail Blazers now officially have two lottery picks in the upcoming 2024 NBA Draft after landing picks No. 7 and No. 14. With four picks in total between the two in the lottery as well as their second-round picks, No. 34 and No. 40, the Blazers have an excellent opportunity to add pieces to their rebuild. 

After looking at mock drafts, it's apparent that the prospects have a wider range of draft outcomes than usual, partly due to the weak draft class. Although the draft could be unpredictable, there's an emerging trend regarding who the Blazers select at pick No. 7. 

Interestingly, all the prospects linked to the Blazers' No. 7 pick in these four mock drafts are defensive-minded, suggesting that this draft could be pivotal in reshaping the team's trajectory.

Bleacher Report: Donovan Clingan, Center, Connecticut

In Bleacher Report writer Jonathan Wasserman's mock draft, Portland selects two-time national champion Donovan Clingan.

Clingan's decision to bet on himself and stay an additional year at Connecticut helped his draft stock. He improved in almost every statistical category and now could be a top-five pick. In his sophomore season, Clingan averaged 13.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game, shooting 63.9 percent from the field and 58.5 percent from the charity stripe.

The fit is questionable initially, with the Blazers already having Deandre Ayton and many other needs to fill this offseason. But Wasserman justifies the pick well in his article.

"With his exceptional pick-and-roll defense and outstanding rim protection, coupled with his towering 7'2" size and great mobility, he's a good fit for Portland's young guards as he would provide them with a reliable target for easy baskets."

Jonathan Wasserman

Ayton had one of the best stretches of his career post-All-Star break, averaging 22.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game on 58/10/84 shooting splits. He looked like a different player, playing more comfortably and aggressively, showing why he was a former No. 1 overall pick. But the Blazers should still take Clingan if they view him as the best prospect available on the board.

For one, Ayton isn't the most consistent player, and the franchise's plans can't solely rely on him just turning the page and being the post-All-Star version of himself from here on out. Additionally, the Blazers are so early in their rebuild that they can prioritize stockpiling the best available assets rather than drafting for positional fit to a certain extent.