Thunder add Jakob Poeltl-esque talent in latest mock draft

Jan 8, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault
Jan 8, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The OKC Thunder are surging toward their first postseason berth in four years and are in a realistic position to claim home-court advantage through at least the first three rounds thanks to their 42-19 record.

And yet, even with these successes, the ball club is still projected to find themselves participating in this year's draft lottery thanks to Sam Presti's wheeling and dealing ways over the past several seasons.

As things currently stand, Oklahoma City holds the rights to two picks that are slated to fall within the first 14 slots in this June's draft, with the Rockets pick (attained in the 2019 Russell Westbrook blockbuster) projected to fall at 10 and the Jazz pick (acquired in the 2021 Derrick Favors trade) coming right after at 11.

Considering just how lethal and deep this Thunder team already is, in the event that they keep these picks the front office could opt to go in any number of directions at a low risk.

However, in a recent mock draft by Bleacher Report's Jonothan Wasserman, the team is seen addressing one of their more glaring needs in the size department, as he has OKC nabbing University of Connecticut big Donovan Clingan with Utah's selection.

OKC Thunder take Donovan Clingan in recent B/R mock draft

Drawing comparisons to Toronto Raptors center Jakob Poeltl, Clingan has a bruising interior game on both ends of the floor that could stand to benefit this Thunder club that lacks any real physical threat down in the frontcourt.

"Donovan Clingan won't be for everyone, but he'll interest specific teams looking to add more physicality and rim protection. At 280 pounds, he'll continue to finish from the dunker's spot, catch lobs and put back misses. He's also nearly doubled last year's assist rate, and he's cut down on his fouls while still blocking 4.2 shots per 40 minutes."

Jonathan Wasserman

While Clingan is limited from an overall talent perspective, with guys like Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams already logging minutes up in the frontcourt the Thunder don't necessarily need any more talents possessing finesse and a versatile offensive game.

What they need is brute force down in the middle to make them more of a physical threat against other top contenders.

The sophomore is a prospect who can provide exactly that.

Measuring in at a monstrous 7-foot-2, 280 pounds, the 19-year-old is dominating the interior for the Huskies in 2023-24 and, through 22 games played, is posting solid averages of 12.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.2 blocks while shooting 64.2 percent from the floor.

On top of the fact that he's a physical juggernaut, Clingan possesses the capability of getting out in transition and running the floor on fast breaks (something Oklahoma City ranks within the top 10 in this season) for quick and easy finishes at the rim. His lateral quickness also allows him to keep up with more offensively gifted bigs when on the defensive side of the ball.

While it's essentially impossible for the Thunder to hold onto all of the draft picks they've managed to acquire over the years, should they wind up keeping at least one of the lottery selections they are projected to have this summer Presti and company must strongly consider scooping up the UCONN center.