NBA: one year after Wembanyama, a new French number one in the draft ? Alexandre Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher on pole

NBA: one year after Wembanyama, a new French number one in the draft ? Alexandre Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher on pole

A new Frenchman should take first place. EPA – Mohammed Badra

The great "Wemby" should make a small one. A year after the pioneer Victor Wembanyama, another French basketball player, Zaccharie Risacher or Alexandre Sarr, should be selected in first position in the NBA Draft on the night of Wednesday to Thursday (2 a.m. French time) in New York.

The exceptional 2023 vintage, for France, of this selection of the best young talents from around the world by NBA franchises, could even be surpassed by the 2024 vintage.

Because if last year Wembanyama (San Antonio) had been accompanied in the top 10 by Bilal Coulibaly (7th, today in Washington), three "Frenchies& ;quot; could appear this time, Tidjane Salaün (Cholet, announced around 10th rank) being able to complete the pair of aces made up of Risacher (Bourg-en-Bresse) and Sarr (Perth, Australia).

Last year, the decision of Spurs, who had inherited the first choice in the lottery organized beforehand, was in no doubt. But on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, who will the Atlanta Hawks (1st choice) then the Washington Wizards (2nd) select ?

Risacher, like "Wemby"

Like Wembanyama, Risacher chose to prepare for the draft by leaving Asvel last summer to "have more responsibilities&quot ; elsewhere, in Bourg-en-Bresse. With success, since the winger (19 years old, 2.06 m according to the NBA), apart from a dip from February to April, delivered a convincing season in the Eurocup (11.3 pts average at 45% long distance , 3.3 rebounds) and in France, finishing with high-level play-offs (14 pts with a record of 28 units).

Skillful from long distance, good defender, the son of former international Stéphane Risacher would not "live like a disappointment" not to be chosen in first position.

"I prefer to be in a team that wants me than a N.1 title. A team with whom we are on the same wavelength, with a project, where I can flourish and learn", added the original Lyonnais during a press conference in mid-June. While some doubts surround his ability to adapt to the pace and play of the NBA, he acknowledges having to "work physically" and claims to be “capable of playing hard”.  

Sarr, the globe-trotter

Sarr (19 years old, 2.16 m) favored abroad before entering the NBA draft. A resident of the Real Madrid training center at the age of 14, he then spent two seasons (2021-2023) in Overtime Elite, an American league for 16-20 year olds, before settling down in Australia, in Perth.

With the Wildcats, the interior reached the championship final and averaged 9.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Useful for protecting the circle thanks to his wingspan, he said at the end of May in NBA player Paul George's podcast that he had to "work on (his) offensive game", because in Australia he was "restricted to a limited role, mainly defensive".

The Toulousain, brother of pivot Olivier Sarr (who went back and forth last season between Oklahoma City in the NBA and the antechamber of the G-League), would like " win the trophy" of next season's Rookie (best beginner) like Wembanyama, 'a source of inspiration".

Salaün, in the shadows

"I was never the one in the spotlight, I was always in the shadows' ;quot;, Salaün explained to the press in mid-June. This was the case this season, where the winger (19 years old, 2.06 m) left the light to Risacher and Sarr to make his mark at Cholet, in the Champions League (10.1 pts and 4 .1 rebounds on average) and during the regular championship season (9 pts and 4 rebounds).

Before moving up in the play-offs (19 pts and 8 rebounds during match 1 of the quarterfinals against Paris). Like Risacher, whose long distance address he shares. The brother of the international Janelle Salaün, however, seems a little more physical and above all much more demonstrative. And he doesn't hide his high ambitions: "I have only reached 40% of my potential. I will become the best French player in the NBA.

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