After helping the UConn Huskies win back-to-back NCAA tournaments, Donovan Clingan is leaving Storrs. The 7-foot-2 center is entering the 2024 NBA Draft after a season in which he averaged 13.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Clingan also averaged 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game over six March Madness games, rising to the occasion when the games mattered most. Now, Clingan is out to prove that he can be one of the better defensive bigs in the NBA.

Clingan isn’t going to be some super switchable player at the next level. He doesn’t have the same mobility as guys like Victor Wembanyama or Chet Holmgren. But Clingan is a traditional defensive anchor, capable of shutting down opposing bigs around the basket. Last season, Clingan gave up only 0.492 points per possessions (all points per possession numbers from Synergy Sports) as a post-up defender, putting him in the 95th percentile in college basketball. And while the game might favor perimeter players, this archetype will always be valuable.

Considering his height, length and 280-pound frame, Clingan should immediately be a tremendous post defender in the NBA. And that’s especially true considering his ability to time shots and practice verticality. Not only was Clingan seventh in the nation in block percentage (11.4%) last year, but he didn’t foul out of a single game. He simply knows how to block or alter shots without fouling. That’s one of the most valuable skills a center can have.

Clingan’s defensive tool kit should make him an elite defensive big in a drop scheme. That will take some pressure off him to meet offensive players at the level, and it’ll allow him to impact games more like players like Rudy Gobert and Brook Lopez. Use your length to contest shots, handle your business around the paint, deter ball handlers from coming into the lane and then gobble up defensive rebounds like the mountain of the man you are. If Clingan continues to do all of that, his next NBA team will be very happy.

On offense, Clingan shouldn’t be asked to be anything more than a screen setter and play finisher. And given how good he’ll be defensively, that’s completely fine. Clingan scored 1.39 points per possession at the rim last season, putting him in the 90th percentile in college basketball. And the traditional stats tell a similar story, as Clingan shot 63.9% from the field in the 2023-24 season. Clingan also scored 1.311 points per possession as the roller in pick-and-roll actions, which was yet another mark that was considered “excellent.”

Clingan also happened to show some promise as a shooter. It would undoubtedly be best if he’s viewed primarily as a rim runner, as you want expectations to be as realistic as possible. And Clingan only shot 58.3% from the free throw line last year. But that was a decent improvement on his 51.7% free throw shooting in 2022-23. And Clingan’s shooting form isn’t all that bad. Sure, he only made two triples for the Huskies last season, but he was also on a championship-winning team. Dan Hurley didn’t need Clingan working to expand his range. But he did show a willingness to shoot it, and there might be something there. If there is, Clingan just might turn into a true franchise cornerstone.

The reality is that this draft is viewed as one of the weakest ones ever. And while there will always be superstars that emerge from each class, no team would regret drafting a surefire starting center, with the potential to have an All-Defensive team impact, in the top-10. Simply put, Clingan is one of the safest picks in this draft.