Trail Blazers News: UConn Champ, All-American Wing Projected to Portland in Mock Draft

Portland could add some major 2023-24 college stars this year.
Mar 31, 2024; Detroit, MI, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Dalton Knecht (3) shoots the ball over Purdue Boilermakers guard Myles Colvin (5) in the first half during the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Championship at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 31, 2024; Detroit, MI, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Dalton Knecht (3) shoots the ball over Purdue Boilermakers guard Myles Colvin (5) in the first half during the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Championship at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have a big summer ahead of them when it comes to some key personnel decisions. First, Portland will have four opportunities to add some young new talent under team control via the 2024 NBA Draft later this month.

Ricky O'Donnell of SB Nation, in a new mock draft, unpacks the ideal selections for Rip City in the first round, where the club has a pair of lottery selections.

With the No. 7 pick, O'Donnell projects that the Trail Blazers will select two-time University of Connecticut Huskies champion center Donovan Clingan.

"He has elite size and length at 7’2 with a 7’7 wingspan, and projects as an excellent rim protector in the league," O'Donnell writes. "Clingan impressed with his passing ability this season, and the Blazers already have a several great athletes on the roster who could buzz around him for handoffs and cuts. I do worry about Clingan’s scoring given his lack of vertical pop around the basket. It’s fair to question his conditioning, too, as he only played half the available minutes for UConn this season. Ultimately, the Blazers don’t need another guard or questionable backcourt shooter, and Clingan’s easy translation as a shot blocker is worth adding."

In 2023-24, en route to his second consecutive college title, the 7-foot-2 sophomore big man averaged 13 points on 63.9 percent shooting from the field and 58.3 percent shooting from the foul line, 7.4 rebounds, 2.5 rejections, 1.5 dimes and 0.5 steals per bout.

By benefit of making an earlier deal with the Golden State Warriors, Portland landed a second lottery draft pick this year, the No. 14 selection. O'Donnell predicts that the Blazers will use that pick on Tennessee swingman Dalton Knecht.

"It’s wild to think Knecht is the same age as Jalen Williams, the OKC Thunder wing who spent three years in college and now two years in the NBA," O'Donnell writes. "Knecht took a long path to get to this point that involved two seasons of JUCO ball and two years at Northern Colorado, but his production and talent was impossible to deny at Tennessee. He’s one of the best shooters in the class with an easy three-point stroke and real shot versatility. He also has a good frame and enough athletic ability to attack a closeout. He’s going to be a bad defender, and he’ll turn 24 years old as a rookie, but his high volume, highly accurate shooting would be a nice fit around Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe."

Last year, the 6-foot-6 consensus All-American averaged 21.7 points on .458/.397/.772 shooting splits, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks a night.

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Alex Kirschenbaum

ALEX KIRSCHENBAUM

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