Pistons draft: Could Detroit follow the Utah Jazz?

Illinois v Connecticut
Illinois v Connecticut / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Detroit Pistons are likely to have a top five pick in the 2024 NBA Draft and will have plenty of options.

We’ve broken down Alex Sarr, Zaccharie Risacher, and even some outside prospects such as Reed Sheppard. The need at power forward is obvious, but what if the Detroit Pistons decided to pivot, and address a different need? 

Detroit has fan favorite Jalen Duren at center. Duren has adhered himself to the Motor City, and is a walking double-double for Detroit. He is one of the best lob threats in the league, and is already one of the league's best rebounders, currently 5th in the NBA in rebounds per game.

With that being said, Duren’s defense leaves a lot to be desired. His lack of defensive prowess handcuffs the Pistons and other teams are keenly aware of this. So what if Detroit decided to go outside the box, follow the Utah Jazz’s recent route, and pair Jalen with a defensive monster down low?

Proposed draft trade to shake up the Pistons core. Proposed draft trade to shake up the Pistons core. dark. Related Story

The one who fits the bill here is the 7-foot-2 big man out of UConn, Donovan Clingan.

Detroit Pistons draft: Donovan Clingan could be the next great defensive center

UConn and Donovan Clingan have been impressive this entire season. Donovan is averaging almost 13 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and an three stocks per game. His field goal percentage is at 63 percent, and he is even 28 percent from deep, albeit on a very small sample size.

Currently on an impressive run in the NCAA Tournament, Clingan is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and almost FIVE stocks. His defensive talent is unmatched in college basketball and just by watching you can see that he truly alters how opposing teams play offense. Still just 20 years old, his defenisve potential is off the charts. 

So how would it look for Detroit? Donovan has shot up draft boards thanks to his recent play. Originally projected as a late lottery pick, Clingan is now being mocked as high as two or three. I’ve even seen some talk on whether he is worthy of the number one overall spot. Would Donovan go number one overall in a stronger draft? Absolutely not. But that’s not the big man’s fault. So if Detroit were to select Donovan, it would likely be with their top draft pick, or would require Troy Weaver to trade back into the first round. But to trade back and stay high enough to grab Clingan would be difficult. 

From a roster standpoint, however, I would love his addition. This team would be changed overnight. Detroit would follow what the Jazz have done with Walker Kessler in that you bring him off the bench behind Duren to be the defensive anchor down low. For matchups against dominant centers, ala Nuggets, Sixers, etc., you could even go big and move Donovan into the starting lineup to add size and strength. Adding a chess piece like Clingan would do wonders for this team. It all just depends on when he gets selected, and what Detroit would need to give up to get there.