Recent report could spell disaster for Grizzlies in pursuit of coveted Draft target

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament   - National Championship
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - National Championship / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The Memphis Grizzlies hold the rights to the ninth overall selection in the 2024 NBA Draft, a position that, though not exactly what they were hoping for after finishing with the league's seventh-worst record (27-55), still could have them in a place where they could choose from a few solid young prospects.

Of course, based on recent reports, Zach Kleiman and company are interested in the idea of moving up during the June 26 festivities, as The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor revealed on a June 3 episode of The Ringer's NBA Show that the franchise has already reached out to the Houston Rockets regarding a potential trade for the third overall pick.

To many, this is viewed as a sign that the Grizzlies are high on the idea of adding UConn standout center Donovan Clingan who, following his tremendous final season at the collegiate level that ended in a second-straight NCAA Championship, as well as his reported strong individual workouts, is rapidly moving up draft boards.

Unfortunately for Memphis, however, sliding up to No. 3 on draft night may not be high enough for them to snag the 20-year-old, as ESPN's Jonathan Givony said on a recent episode of The Lowe Post Podcast that the Atlanta Hawks, who hold the rights to the top selection, currently have their eyes on the likes of Clingan.

Hawks could thwart Grizzlies plans of drafting Donovan Clingan

"I've heard that Atlanta likes Donovan Clingan. Quin Snyder especially likes Donovan Clingan. Atlanta had, I think, one of the worst defenses in the NBA the past few years. One great way to fix that is to draft a guy with a 9-foot-7 standing reach, who is the best shot blocker in this draft, who anchored a national championship defense the past two years."

Jonathan Givony

As Givony alluded to, the Hawks have been an absolutely putrid defensive unit over the last few seasons and finished this past campaign off with the fourth-worst defensive rating and allowed opponents to score at the third-highest rate in the association.

Simply put, the idea of adding on a rookie who averaged 2.5 blocks per game in 2023-24 and who projects to be a high-end rim protector and brute-force presence down low at the next level with his 7-foot-2, 280-pound frame may be too much for Atlanta to pass up on which, in turn, could dash the hopes of this Grizzlies team snatching him up for themselves.