Why Donovan Clingan's potential fit with Hornets is questionable at best

If the Hornets decided to go in the direction of Clingan at No. 6 overall, what does that mean for Mark Williams' future?
Apr 13, 2024; Hartford, CT, USA; UConn Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) hold the championship trophy as he arrives at the State Capitol and greeted by fans before teams victory parade. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2024; Hartford, CT, USA; UConn Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) hold the championship trophy as he arrives at the State Capitol and greeted by fans before teams victory parade. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets do not want to be picking in this high of a draft slot for the foreseeable future. With a runway in place for immediate improvement, plus an aggressive front office ready to make moves, it’s imperative for Charlotte to hit on the No. 6 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Even though this year’s class is viewed without much star power, it’s relatively deep with role player-type archetypes who can make impacts for hopeful contending teams. Charlotte wants to be in the Play-In discussions next season, if not a successful push forward to a bright long-term future.

Which prospects at No. 6 overall can help take Charlotte to another level? It’s time to kick off our draft fits series here on Swarm & Sting. First up, it’s Connecticut big man Donovan Clingan.

Can Clingan co-exist alongside another non-spacing big like Mark Williams? Let’s explore it a little further.

Clingan is a monster of a human being standing nearly 7’2”, 282 pounds, with a 7’6” wingspan. Clinton’s standing reach of 9’7” is remarkable, simply because he can touch the rim without lifting himself off the ground.

The physical comparisons for Clingan swing towards the Rudy Gobert and Brook Lopez range, and ironically enough those two might be the best comparison for his overall game.

For the UConn Huskies last season, Clingan averaged 13.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.5 assists in only 22.6 minutes per game. When stretched out to NBA-level workload at per-36, Clingan’s numbers are even more eye-popping: 20.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, 2.4 assists; 63.7 true shooting percentage.

Clingan displayed his defensive potential often at UConn, and there’s a real case to be made with him becoming an above-average anchor immediately in the Association. The pure size and length from Clingan will deter drivers to the basket in a similar manner as Gobert, or maybe a player like Walker Kessler might be a floor-level outcome.

Clingan has been receiving significant buzz since the NBA Draft Combine last week in Chicago. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Clingan will be firmly in play for the Hawks, Wizards and Rockets atop this year’s draft order. If Clingan did slip outside the top-three, how far could he go?

The fit next to Victor Wembanyama on the Spurs isn’t great at No. 4 overall. Meanwhile, would the Pistons bandana their development of Jalen Duren so soon in favor of Clingan? For the Hornets, if Clingan is on the board at No. 6, there’s at least serious discussions that need to be had.

The only way for Clingan to really be a fit in Charlotte is his theoretical ability to space the floor from three-point range. Clingan never displayed at UConn, and his questionable free throw percentages make it a shaky projection. A player development staff would have to fully believe in Clingan becoming a Lopez-like floor-spacer on the next level.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony said on Wojnarowksi’s podcast that Clingan is making impressive strides in pre-draft workouts from a shooting perspective. If that’s the case, it makes the fit of Clingan next to Williams potentially interesting.

However, should the Hornets truly invest into a non-shooting big man with a high selection? With Williams already onboard, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Williams already beats out Clingan in the physical measurables category, including a historic 9’9” standing reach of his own. Williams isn’t a floor-spacer either, but he doesn’t have to be as the rolling rim-runner being set up by LaMelo Ball and others.

Williams missed the final 63 games of the regular season due to a lingering lower back issue. As former Hornets head coach Steve Clifford described it a bone issue, which is certainly concerning if it doesn’t check out long-term.

Going in the direction of Clingan would signal no confidence in Williams’ future to stay healthy as a consistent long-term piece in Charlotte. All of the strengths Clingan brings to the table, Williams can theoretically put together as well.

In terms of the overall potential fit between Clingan and the Hornets, it would be graded as a ‘C’ at best. Unless Clingan can become a dynamite floor-spacer, it’s too redundant in Charlotte.

Simply put, drafting Clingan at No. 6 overall should instantly put Williams into trade talks this offseason for the Hornets to improve the roster elsewhere.