NBA

French players go early, often at NBA draft

By Sports Desk June 26, 2024

For the second year in a row, a player from France was selected first overall in the NBA draft.

As a testament to the NBA being a global game, a player from France was also taken with the second and the sixth pick in the 2024 draft.

The Atlanta Hawks started off Wednesday's draft from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn by selecting Zaccharie Risacher with the first overall pick, and the Washington Wizards followed their lead by taking fellow Frenchman Alexandre Sarr with the No. 2 pick.

The run on French players continued with the Charlotte Hornets selecting forward Tidjane Salaun with the sixth pick, making this the first time in modern history that a country other than the United States had three players selected in the top 10.

 

Risacher is a catch-and-shoot 3-point specialist and an exceptional defender on the wing, while the big man Sarr possesses the ball-handling ability of a wing and is an elite rim protector.

Salaun was the youngest player taken in the draft at 18 years old, and is considered an excellent athlete with a high motor.

There was one more player from France taken before the first round ended, with the New York Knicks taking Pacome Dadiet at No. 25.

With another Frenchman, Victor Wembanyama, being selected first overall last year by the San Antonio Spurs, this also marked the first time in NBA history consecutive No. 1 picks didn’t play collegiately in the United States.

It wasn't all players from France selected, however.

After the top two picks, the Houston Rockets took sharp-shooter Reed Sheppard from Kentucky, and the San Antonio Spurs used their first of two top-10 picks to select guard Stephon Castle from two-time defending American collegiate national champion Connecticut at No. 4.

Three picks later, Castle's team-mate at UConn, centre Donovan Clingan, was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Spurs then used their second top-10 pick to take Kentucky point guard Rob Dillingham at No. 8, but later traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Forward Ron Holland II, an American who skipped college to play in the G League, went three picks earlier to the Detroit Pistons at No. 5.

Perhaps the biggest - no pun intended - surprise of the first round was the Memphis Grizzlies taking Zach Edey with the ninth pick.

The 7-foot-3 Canadian is the back-to-back American collegiate AP national player of the year, yet was slotted to get picked much later by many experts.

The Utah Jazz rounded out the top 10 by selecting Colorado forward Cody Williams - a strong defender and adept ball-handler.

One name absent from the first round was Bronny James - son of the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, LeBron James.

The elder James had previously said it would be a dream to play with his son, but his team, the Los Angeles Lakers, ended up taking Dalton Knecht with the 17th pick.

Knecht, a prolific scorer and an AP All-American this past season at Tennessee, was projected by many prognosticators to be a top-10 pick, but slid down the draft board.

The younger James hadn't been predicted to be selected in the first round, but could be taken at some point on Day 2 of the draft on Thursday. 

Related items

  • Hield excited to learn from Warriors stars- “I’ve watched these guys play since college” Hield excited to learn from Warriors stars- “I’ve watched these guys play since college”

    Sharpshooting Bahamian Buddy Hield expressed excitement at the opportunity to play for the Golden State Warriors in his first interaction with Warriors media on Thursday.

    The 31-year-old joined the seven-time NBA Champions through a sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in early July.

    The Warriors will be the fifth team Hield has represented since being drafted sixth overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2016 NBA Draft.

    “Excited! Excited for the opportunity to come in here and learn from great players, a great organization, great coach, and be a sponge and an open book to everybody around me,” was Hield’s response to a question about his emotions heading into his first season in San Francisco.

    Hield was brought in by the Warriors as a like-for-like replacement for franchise legend Klay Thompson who left for the Dallas Mavericks in Free Agency after 13 seasons and four titles with the Warriors.

    The Bahamian says he isn’t feeling the pressure of trying to replicate what Thompson gave the Warriors.

    “There’s no pressure, I just have to come and do my job. What Klay has done for this organization has been tremendous. I love Klay a lot and I watched him over the years and he’s special,” he said.

    “The way he can get hot and change the game as a two-way player. I think it’s fun being in that role,” he added.

    One of the hallmarks of the Warriors during their run of dominance in the Steph Curry-Draymond Green-Klay Thompson era has been their complicated offensive scheme.

    Hield believes practice is the key to learning where he fits into the offense quickly.

    “Taking it day by day in practice, watching a lot of film. Practice will be really important. I’ve watched these guys play since college. Even in the pros when they play, they’re always a fun team to watch,” he said.

    “I think it’s a great fit and it shouldn’t be that hard but everything takes time,” he added.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Clippers trading Westbrook to Jazz, clearing move for guard to join Nuggets Clippers trading Westbrook to Jazz, clearing move for guard to join Nuggets

    Russell Westbrook is on the move once again, but isn't yet at his final destination.

    The Los Angeles Clippers agreed to send Westbrook to the Utah Jazz on Thursday, as part of a sign-and-trade deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

    The Jazz are expected to reach a contract buyout agreement with Westbrook, opening the door for him to join the Denver Nuggets.

    Denver will be the sixth team Westbrook has played for in the last seven seasons.

    To complete the trade, Utah will also receive a swap of second-round draft picks and cash from Los Angeles, while shipping guard Kris Dunn to the Clippers.

    The 35-year-old Westbrook was named the NBA MVP in 2016-17, averaging a career-high 31.6 points, along with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists.

    In 2023-24 for the Clippers, he averaged career lows of 11.1 points and 4.5 assists with 5 boards. He came off the bench in 57 of the 68 games he played, shooting 27.3 per cent from 3-point range - the second-lowest mark among the 226 players with at least 150 attempts from beyond the arc.

    The Nuggets still believe he can provide depth off the bench and help them make another run at a title after being eliminated in the Western Conference semi-finals in May.

    The Clippers were ousted by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, with Westbrook averaging 6.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the six play-off games.

    In 1,162 games in a 16-year career, Westbrook has averages of 21.7 points, 8.1 assists and 7.1 rebounds. His 199 career triple-doubles are the most in NBA history.

    Dunn has career averages of 7.9 points, 4.2 assists and 3.3 boards since being drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016.

    In starting 32 of 66 games for the Jazz last season, the 30-year-old Dunn averaged 5.4 points, 3.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds.

  • Mavs confident Irving will be fit for start of NBA season after hand surgery Mavs confident Irving will be fit for start of NBA season after hand surgery

    Kyrie Irving has undergone surgery on a broken hand, but is expected to be fit for the start of next season.

    Irving was part of the Dallas Mavericks team that reached the NBA Finals, only to go down to the dominant Boston Celtics.

    The 32-year-old sustained his injury while training earlier in July, and has now gone through surgery to fix the issue.

    Posting on X, Irving wrote: "Tribe, Thank you for all the messages and prayers. God truly knew that I needed to take a break from basketball after the long season and give myself some time to heal.

    "I am in love with getting better at my craft, but now I must rest and recover."

    While the Mavs did not confirm a timetable for Irving's return, it has been reported he is anticipated to return to action in around two and a half months.

    The 2024-25 season is set to begin in October.

    Irving averaged 25.6 points per game in the regular season across 2023-24.

    The Mavs have brought in Klay Thompson as a free agent this off-season.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.