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2024 NBA Draft: Zaccharie Risacher goes No. 1 overall to Hawks; second straight French player picked first

Victor Wembanyama went No. 1 to the Spurs a year ago

            Sam Quinn

By Sam Quinn of cbssports.com contributing

The Atlanta Hawks have selected Zaccharie Risacher with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, making him the second consecutive French player to go No. 1 after Victor Wembanyama did so a year ago. Risacher comes from a strong basketball background as his father, Stéphane Risacher, was a professional player in Europe as well. The younger Risacher started his professional career in France playing for ASVEL Basket, the club owned by former San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker. While there, he briefly overlapped with Wembanyama, the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year.

Risacher looks the part of a do-it-all wing, perhaps the single most important archetype in the modern NBA. He has good defensive tools, can handle the ball and has, at times, flashed an impressive jumper. He is streaky on that front, and his NBA future may very well be dictated by how much that shot develops, but he brings a little bit of everything to the table as a 19-year-old. If he grows into the sort of player the Hawks think he can be, then he has a chance to be the kind of wing that fits onto any roster regardless of who else it has. Such players are extremely rare, and as we saw with the Mikal Bridges trade on Tuesday, are worth quite a bit.

The Hawks stunned the basketball world when they jumped all the way from the Play-In to the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft on lottery night, but the truth is, they might have needed this pick more than any other team that missed the playoffs. Atlanta is stuck from an asset perspective after trading away a haul to land Dejounte Murray two offseasons ago only to find that he did not fit with incumbent point guard Trae Young. Now they are a sub-.500 team that does not control any of its own first-round picks from 2025 through 2027.

That made getting this pick right absolutely essential. The No. 1 pick represented Atlanta’s last obvious shot at a difference-maker on a value contract for the foreseeable future. There is still quite a bit in flux surrounding that pick. The Hawks are expected to explore trades of both Young and Murray this offseason. Only young wing Jalen Johnson is considered safe, and with the Hawks sniffing the luxury tax, there will likely be moves made with an eye towards saving. At 36-46, the Hawks were already moving in the wrong direction. The goal now will be to get younger and cheaper while reorienting the roster around Johnson, whichever lead guard remains, and, of course their selection here.

Risacher will now join Johnson and De’Andre Hunter to form one of the league’s most promising groups of young wings. Whether it is Murray or Young as his point guard, he will have a veteran to set him up, and the Clint Capela-Onyeka Okongwu combination gives the Hawks solid center depth. It isn’t clear yet who will stay and who will go on this roster, so speculating about fit would be a bit premature at this phase. But the Hawks needed this pick to find a player that could hopefully slot next to Johnson as a foundational piece moving forward. In Risacher, they believe they’ve found such a player.

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