NBA Draft: Atlanta Hawks select French star Zaccharie Risacher with No. 1 overall pick

The 19-year-old spent last season with JL Bourg in France's LBN Pro A league

For the second straight season, a French star has been selected No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft.

The Atlanta Hawks selected Zaccharie Risacher with the first pick of Wednesday night's draft. Risacher, a 6-foot-8 wing who played with JL Bourg in the French league last season, was without a doubt one of the best prospects in this year's class and had been a top target for the Hawks in the lead-up to the draft.

This is the fourth time in the modern draft era that the first pick has been an international player. The San Antonio Spurs selected Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick last summer. The Toronto Raptors took Andrea Bargnani out of Italy first in 2006, and the Houston Rockets selected Chinese star Yao Ming No. 1 overall in 2002.

Zaccharie Risacher is just the fourth international player to be selected No. 1 overall in the modern era.
Zaccharie Risacher is the fourth international player to be selected No. 1 overall in the modern era. (Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

While Risacher doesn’t have anywhere near the buzz Wembanyama did coming into the draft, he’s still a player with tremendous upside the Hawks can build around.

The 19-year-old averaged 11.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game with JL Bourg last season, and he led it into the semifinals of the LBN Pro A playoffs. He dropped an impressive 28 points while sinking five 3-pointers in a playoff matchup against Nanterre in what was his best game of the season. Risacher helped lead Bourg into the semifinals of the playoffs before it was knocked out by eventual league champion Monaco. Risacher also played on France’s U16, U17 and U19 teams, though he won’t be with France at the Paris Olympics later this summer.

The Hawks have been targeting Risacher and UConn star Donovan Clingan in recent weeks. Alex Sarr, another French player who spent last season in Australia, actually refused to work out for them. Sarr had long been expected to go No. 1 overall, though Risacher overtook him in most mock drafts in recent days, and it’s easy to see why.

Risacher is a very safe pick in this draft class, both due to his potential and the fact that his game appears very well-suited for the NBA, especially considering he played more than 50 games last season in the French league as a teenager.

“I will say the fact that I was on a professional team with a role,” he said on Tuesday when asked why he thinks he stands out in the draft class, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And I was considered like a part of a winning team and not just like an NBA prospect or somebody who needed minutes because of his status. Yeah, just year-round professional experience, people, famous players just made me realize that I could do something great in the season, as a player, as well as a team and also the fact that I was working out every day. I think as soon as you put the work in, you start to have more confidence and you usually do not worry.”

Even if he doesn't turn into a generational talent in the way many expect Wembanyama to, Risacher should be a great fit alongside Trae Young and Dejounte Murray and be able to make a huge impact in Atlanta right away.