2024 Las Vegas Summer League preview: Zaccharie Risacher has Hawks under microscope

The Atlanta Hawks are preparing for their annual trip to the NBA Summer League, and fans are excited to watch their talented young core.
Zaccharie Risacher, Atlanta Hawks
Zaccharie Risacher, Atlanta Hawks / Anadolu/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks are gearing up for an action-packed summer in Las Vegas this month. This will be their 13th summer competing in Vegas, and the Hawks will be under a microscope because of Zaccharie Risacher’s status as the No.1 overall pick.

He is arguably one of the more unknown No.1 overall picks in recent memory, and it is because he played overseas instead of at an American college. Casual fans have not had a chance to see him play and question his abilities. Now, he can prove himself to the masses by leading a team of great young talent into the Nevada desert.

Alongside Risacher, fellow rookie Nikola Djurisic will gain valuable experience, and sophomore Kobe Bufkin will showcase his improvements. Mouhamed Gueye is considered a forward. But at 6’11, minutes as the starting center could be good for his development. During his rookie campaign in the Summer League last year, he shined with his creative playstyle. The rest of the roster is filled with the Hawks G-league roster College Park Skyhawks, including Skyhawks star Jordin Bowden. 

Hawks assistant coach Ronald Nored will coach the team, and it will be his third occasion coaching a roster in the Summer League. Nored was the head coach for the Long Island Nets before accepting AC jobs with the Charlotte Hornets from 2018 to 2021 and the Indiana Pacers from 2021-2023 before joining Quin Snyder in Atlanta.

His resume made him a trustworthy candidate to lead the young Hawks to success on the summer circuit. 

The NBA Matchmakers have given Hawks fans a lot of fun matchups to watch July 12th-19th.

The NBA matchmakers have given the Hawks many exciting matchups, beginning with their opening night matchup against the Washington Wizards on July 12th. This was a strategic setup, as the masses want to watch the top two picks of the NBA Draft face-off, especially after the drama at the draft. Alex Sarr declined to work out for the Hawks, and some Hawks fans still believe he would’ve been a better fit for the franchise. 

Friday could be the beginning of a potential rivalry between the two, and the NBA wants the world to witness it. Because of the intrigue, it is the first game of an ESPN doubleheader, and fans are still debating who has the higher ceiling. Both will be under the same amount of pressure to impact their franchises, and their Summer League matchup will directly compare talent.

Their next match-up will be against the San Antonio Spurs on July 14th, but Victor Wembanyama will not participate due to his obligation to the French National Team. 

Three days later, on July 17th, they have another West Coast matchup against Bronny James and the Los Angeles Lakers. James is accompanied by Tennessee star Dalton Knecht, who was selected with the 17th pick in the draft. Both have struggled so far during their Summer League campaigns but can not be underestimated based on their capabilities.

The Hawks' final matchup will be against the Chicago Bulls on July 19th. Risacher versus 11th overall pick Matas Buzelis will take center stage. Buzelis challenged Risacher to a game of one-on-one during an interview with BasketNews' Donatas Urbonas in March.

Buzelis spoke about his skill set compared to Risacher’s in an interview with The Athletic's Shams Charania in June. 

When asked if he thinks Risacher is avoiding his challenge, Buzelis told Charania, “I think everybody got it twisted when I said that. I respect Zach as a player. Of course, he’s a great player. He just doesn't want to see me. I’m just going to keep it real with everybody.”

Top draft prospects do not play the entire Summer League schedule, but the intrigue of watching them face off is undeniable. Buzelis knew Rischaer could be drafted relatively high, but he has always believed he is the superior player.

“ I definitely feel like I'm the No.1 pick. I know I put the work in. I know this draft is wide open, and everyone is trying to compete for it,” Buzelis told Charania. “That's why I started challenging him. Why not? Let’s start some competition. Let’s try to get our hands dirty, you know what I mean?”

If the Hawks win all their games, they will advance to the Summer League playoffs.

The franchise has never won the Summer League Championship, and it would give the young core immense confidence heading into the season.