Historic Night for French Basketball: 4 Takeaways from 2024 NBA Draft’s 1st Round

The 2024 NBA Draft’s first round was historic for French basketball. France celebrated as three of its players were picked in the top 10, showcasing the country’s rising talent in the sport.

The Portland Trail Blazers boosted their roster with strong picks, while Dalton Knecht’s unexpected slide to No. 17 added some drama to the night.

Let’s dive into the key highlights and what these picks mean for the future of basketball.

1. France Plants a Flag

French players made a big splash in the 2024 NBA Draft. Countrymen Zaccharie Risacher and Alex Sarr were the top two picks, making it two years in a row that a French player was picked first. Then, France’s Tidjane Salaun was picked sixth by the Hornets, setting a record for three top 10 picks from a non-U.S. country in the same draft. Pacome Dadiet also joined the elite ranks, being selected 25th overall by the Knicks.

Risacher is known for his strong defense and three-point shooting, making him a perfect fit for any team. Sarr, at 7 feet tall, is agile and skilled and has been a top prospect from the start. Both are expected to ease into their roles and bring success to their teams. Salaun brings athleticism and a long wingspan to the Hornets, complementing their fast-paced style. His ability to make an instant impact on both ends of the floor makes him an exciting addition.

2. Dollars for Dillingham

The Minnesota Timberwolves made a bold move by trading an unprotected 2031 first-round pick and a lightly protected 2030 swap to San Antonio for the No. 8 pick, Robert Dillingham. Known for his electric playmaking skills, Dillingham showed his talent at Kentucky, averaging 15.2 points and 3.9 assists per game.

His impressive shooting percentages – 44.4% from three and 47.5% overall – make him a valuable addition to the Timberwolves. With Minnesota already deep into the luxury tax, adding Dillingham could push their total bill up even higher. Despite his smaller stature at 6-foot-1, 164 pounds, Dillingham has time to develop his game further.

The Spurs, meanwhile, continue to build around their star, Victor Wembanyama, having selected Stephon Castle at No. 4.

3. Portland Powers up

The Portland Trail Blazers kicked off the night with a major trade, acquiring forward Deni Avdija from the Wizards. In return, they sent Malcolm Brogdon and four draft picks to Washington. The Blazers continued to make waves by picking Donovan Clingan at No. 7. Clingan, a back-to-back NCAA champion, is expected to become a key defensive player for the team.

With last year’s No. 3 pick, Scoot Henderson, already on the squad, Portland’s roster is becoming quite competitive. The addition of Avdija and Clingan creates a crowded frontcourt, which might affect playing time for current starters Deandre Ayton and Jerami Grant. This new dynamic matches well with their developing backcourt, featuring Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe. To stay informed about these exciting changes, make sure to explore NBA bets for the latest updates.

4. Knecht, James Land in L.A.

Dalton Knecht’s journey to the NBA has been nothing short of inspiring. Despite not getting any Division I offers in high school, Knecht didn’t give up. He went to junior college, grew five inches, and then transferred to Northern Colorado and later Tennessee. At Tennessee, he became a star, averaging 21.7 points per game and earning the SEC Player of the Year title. Draft experts thought he would be a top-10 pick, but he slid to No. 17, where the Lakers snapped him up.

Knecht’s standout skill is shooting, hitting nearly 40% from three-point range. His offense will be key for the Lakers, but he still needs to prove he can play solid defense to stay on the court. New head coach J.J. Redick, a former shooting guard, is expected to help Knecht fit into the Lakers’ system.

The Lakers made further news in the NBA Draft by selecting Lebron James’ son, Bronny James, in the second round. This pick all but solidifies that Lebron will finish out his career with the Lakers. Lebron and Bronny James will now become the first-ever active father-son duo to play for the same NBA team.

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