Hawks 'exploring' major risk with No. 1 overall pick in 2024 NBA Draft: Report

The Atlanta Hawks could be setting themselves up to take a major risk in the 2024 NBA draft.
Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields
Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks could be on the verge of making a significant mistake by taking an undue risk.

Most projections have the Hawks making French big man Alexandre Sarr the No. 1 overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft. Some have shifted that projection to Zaccharie Risacher after his postseason tear. Hawks personnel including General Manager Landry Fields also saw him play in person.

Further reports have UConn’s Donovan Clingan – a back-to-back national champion – as the apple of Head Coach Quin Snyder’s eye. 

This notably emerged after Snyder watched Risacher.

That all fits with the idea of the Hawks having narrowed their prospect pool down to at least Sarr and Risacher, with Snyder’s influence the late-developing factor. But the latest draft buzz has the Hawks eyeing a potential trade down, a significant risk if they truly like the purported target.

Clingan is a top-three prospect who might experience a minor drop on draft night because teams that are in the Nos. 3-6 range already have starting centers in place,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote on June 7. “He's in conversation at No. 1 after working out in Atlanta (which is exploring trade-down scenarios).”

“He's viewed by many as the draft's most impactful defensive prospect with the timing he shows as a rim-protector and the improvement he has made guarding the pick-and-roll.”

Clingan stands 7-foot-3 at 282 pounds and has a 7-foot-7 standing reach.

He would add much-needed size to the Hawks’ frontcourt. And there is some optimism about his ability to develop a three-point shot, though that is more projection than reality at this point in his development.

Givony notes that Clingan is not expected to make it past the Portland Trail Blazers who hold the No. 7 overall pick and met with the big man this past week.

Givony also notes the Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Utah Jazz as potential suitors who could even pursue a trade up to select Clingan. That puts the Hawks in an even more precarious situation.

Any picks between the No. 1 pick and wherever they would land would still be up for grabs.

Hawks have to hold firm with No. 1 pick in 2024 NBA Draft

The last thing the Hawks should want to do is make a trade back with a specific target in mind only to have that target get swiped from under their noses.

That could happen with a team no one is projecting as a potential landing spot or one that sees the opportunity and attempts to cut the Hawks off at the pass. Even if they explore a potential trade with the San Antonio Spurs that yielded the No. 4 pick, picks Nos. 2 and 3 loom large.

This draft class has largely been viewed as one of the weakest in recent memory. 

Part of that reason is because there is no clear-cut No. 1 option. If that is the case, the Hawks should take Clingan – assuming he wins out in their internal discussions – and never look back.

Ditto that for Sarr or Risacher, should they be the choice. The only way it would make sense for the Hawks to trade out of the slot is if they had a list of options they would be comfortable taking in whatever slot they landed in after a trade.

However, passing up the opportunity to have your choice of prospects is too great of a risk.