Insider: Hawks 'really' interested in 'safest' prospect as pre-draft workout list grows

The Atlanta Hawks are working through their preparations for the 2024 NBA Draft and could be looking to avoid taking a major risk.
Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields
Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It may be big man-or-bust for the Atlanta Hawks in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Which big man that will be could be the better question, and it could all hinge on what kind of timeline the organization sees itself on.

“I think for Atlanta, with [Zaccharie] Risacher, they’re bringing him in for this workout. This’ll be pivotal. Because what I’m hearing is that they really like Clingan, who already worked out for the Hawks,” Kevin O’Connor said on “The Ringer NBA Draft Show” on June 12. “I think that the Hawks would be open to trading down to get Clingan at 2, or 3, or 4, or wherever it might be if a team wants to move up for Sarr or Risacher.

“The Risacher workout, we’ll see. Maybe they’ll be blown away, and maybe he’ll move up to No. 1 on their boards. Maybe later in the month when they do end that meeting with [Alexandre] Sarr, and [Matas] Buzelis, and whoever else they decide to meet with, one of those guys will be a standout.”

Peachtree Hoops’ Wes Morton shared HoopsHype’s database showing an updated workout list with Clingan and Risacher for the Hawks. This also aligns with reports that Clingan has a supporter in Hawks head coach Quin Snyder.

“I've heard that Atlanta likes Donovan Clingan. Quin Snyder especially likes Donovan Clingan,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony said on “The Lowe Post” podcast on June 4. “Atlanta had, I think, one of the worst defenses in the NBA the past few years. And one great way to fix that is to draft a guy with a 9-foot-7 standing reach, who is the best shot blocker in this draft, who anchored a national championship defense the past two years.”

There were also reports that the Hawks could explore trade-down options with the No. 1 overall pick, with the San Antonio Spurs and the Nos. 4 and 8 picks one of the possible returns.

Hawks could target 2x NCAA champion Donovan Clingan in trade back

“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,” Givony wrote on June 7. “He's in conversation at No. 1 after working out in Atlanta (which is exploring trade-down scenarios).”

O’Connor tied the entire situation into betting odds, noting Clingan’s rise.

“Clingan … to me I think that’s a very interesting guy. Who’s already worked out for Atlanta, who fits with Trae Young perfectly if they end up keeping Trae, which they might,” O’Connor said. “To me, Clingan is the safest guy with a lot of question marks to be a really good high-level player.

“As long as he’s healthy, he’s gonna be a good player. And I think for Atlanta at No. 1 or whoever ends up getting him, that’s a win.”

O’Connor predicted “a lot of whiffs” in the top of this year’s draft.

It has long been viewed as one of the weakest in recent memory with no consensus about who the No. 1 pick should be. Fit could be of higher value to organizations if they view the difference in talent level as being minimal.

It only takes one team to view things differently and offer up an enticing offer to shake up the draft.

There is also a significant risk in trading down more than one spot.

With so much hanging in the balance for the Hawks, there is a chance no offer they receive for the No. 1 pick is worth the risk of missing out on their preferred prospect. Just as rival teams could covet prospects they are fine passing on, they could covet the same one(s).