Dark horse contender for No. 1 pick in 2024 NBA Draft 'has fans' within Hawks

There is a buzz around one 2024 NBA Draft prospect who has gained support within the Atlanta Hawks organization.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks are said to be honing in on a pair of prospects with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft.

However, a third prospect is gaining steam in the wake of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

Alexandre Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher continue to be No. 1 and 2 in terms of most often projected top picks. But UConn’s Donovan Clingan cannot be written off with the draft still over one month away.

Clingan has momentum going into June, as he made a strong impression in the drills portion of the combine, private interviews and his pro day, where he dropped intriguing glimpses of perimeter shooting that many scouts feel will be part of his game in the not-too-distant future,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote on May 24.

“There is some chatter … that Clingan has fans among the Hawks' constituency at No. 1, meaning there's a lot left to be played out between now and June 26.”

Clingan stands 7-foot-3 in shoes at 280-plus pounds with a 7-foot-7 wingspan.

A two-time National Champion, the Huskies big man has intrigued scouts with his potential as a dominant post player with the makings of a decent outside shooter. The latter is sheer projection since Clingan attempted just nine 3s in his two years in college.

This is not the first Clingan has been linked to the Hawks, with Givony speculating the big man could find his way into the mix before all was said and done.

“Many around the league expect the Hawks to select Sarr with the top pick,” Givony wrote on May 22, noting the uncertainty around the situation. “We'd expect Fields and the Hawks front office to consider other options here as well, including Risacher, Donovan Clingan and trade opportunities.”

Sarr has already spoken highly about the possibility of playing for the Hawks.

Fields took a group of Hawks personnel to see Risacher play in person, narrowly missing an even better performance from the young wing.

Hawks' needs cloud draft projections

The Hawks need defensive help on the wings and down low, particularly rim protection. They are deeper at center than at small forward with plus-defensive capabilities, which could play a large part in who ultimately goes No. 1 overall.

Whether or not the Hawks decide to split up their star backcourt could also play a big role.

As could a potential scenario in which they try to reconfigure the rest of the roster around their All-Star duo.

Fields said he and the front office would be broad in their pre-draft research before making their final decision, adding they weren’t considering trading the pick yet. Clingan being in the mix for the No. 1 pick could also reflect the possibility the Hawks are not the ones picking.

With free agency not until June 30 when the legal tampering period opens, there may be little clarity on the situation until right before the draft.