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  • Writer's pictureJ O'Quinn

The Future is French: Winners and Losers from Round 1 of the 2024 NBA Draft

Image Credit: The Sporting News Illustrations

The NBA draft is finally upon us, and all 30 teams are looking to find their star of the future. There have been many speculations about this draft class, citing it as one of the "weaker" groups in recent memory. For the first time in a decade there was no clear cut candidate to go number one overall to Atlanta, and it wasn't until Adam Silver called Zaccharie Risacher's name that all questions were laid to rest. Although not as top heavy, the class of 2024 runs deep, filled with exceptional talent from college and international backgrounds. Let's take a look at some of my winners and losers from last night.

 

Winner - French Basketball

Image Credit: ClutchPoints

Basketball talent from overseas has become an unstoppable force in the NBA. In fact, the last 6 NBA MVPs are international born players. The trend has trickled over to the west side of Europe and intoxicated numerous young French stars. Last year we saw 7'4 19-year-old Victor Wembanyama drafted with the first overall pick and his running mate Bilal Coulibaly selected 8th overall to the Wizards. This year, the French depth increased with 4 players drafted in the first round including the 3 going within the first 6 picks. Whatever they are putting in the water across the pond clearly breeds elite prospects, and has no doubt garnered the attention of NBA scouts. I have no reason to believe that this trend won't continue in the coming years and would not be surprised to see young talent aim to play for a year or two in the French league before declaring for the draft.

 

Loser - Charlotte Hornets

Image Credit: United States Latest News, United States Headlines

I very badly want to like this pick for the Hornets. Tidjane Salaun has a great frame and loads of potential, but for this particular situation in Charlotte I would've much rather them targeted a wing who is a tiny bit more developed. Salaun has shown the ability to make shots, but his ball-handling and IQ leave a lot to be desired. There were rumors of a trade with Memphis that would have moved Charlotte back to the number 9 pick, and I believe had they had gone through with it, they still could've landed the Frenchman. The future is no doubt bright in Charlotte with Lamelo Ball and Brandon Miller at the helm, but they most definitely could have brought in a better fit. Time will tell with Tidjane, and I wish him nothing but the best.

 

Winner - Minnesota Timberwolves

Image Credit: United States Latest News, United States Headlines

What a night for the reigning Western conference runner up Minnesota Timberwolves. A shocking trade with San Antonio that saw the T-Wolves exchange two picks from 2030 and 2031 for the rights to Kentucky star Rob Dillingham. I understand that this draft is a tad underwhelming but trading a top 8 pick for 2 picks in the next decade doesn't sit right with me. Dillingham is the most versatile scoring point guard in this draft and a perfect replacement for veteran Mike Conley. The Timberwolves decided they weren't done drafting lights-out scoring guards as they saw Terrence Shannon Jr. slide down right into their hands at pick 27. Shannon was one of the most elite scorers in all of college basketball last year while leading the Fighting Illini to an Elite 8 appearance. The Timberwolves have yet another pick tonight, but so far, they have to be more than pleased with the outcome of this draft.

 

Loser - Stephen A. Smith

Image Credit: ABC

A good day turned into a somber night for Knicks fans, and not just because they had to look at Stephen A.'s overly violet suit. The franchise traded for star Mikal Bridges earlier that morning, completing the "Nova Boys" roster for New York. However, much to Stephen A.'s chagrin, the Knicks made a baffling selection at pick 25 in last night's draft. Pacome Dadiet, while he is one of the youngest players in the draft, has a long way to go to be NBA ready. He does not lack in strength, but his shooting and athleticism are, to be blunt, average. The Knicks are a great basketball team and are clearly willing to take on a challenge by investing in such a young player. It will be interesting to see how the Knicks can turn this prospect into NBA ready talent.

 

It is very difficult to say with certainty that a team made a good or bad pick. In fact, you can't. We have seen far too often a "perfect pick" turn out to be a bust, and a "shocking" pick turn into the Nikola Jokic's and Isaiah Thomas' of the NBA. At the end of the day, the teams who make the shocking picks always have for more insight on the players left on the board. I'm very interested to see if the Hornets and Knicks can turn these picks into successful NBA careers, and I hope they do. As of now, however, they are questionable to say the least.


Tune into the second round tonight at 4 p.m. ET. on ESPN

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