Victor Wembanyama reacts to historic night started by Hawks' Zaccharie Risacher

San Antonio Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama sent a message in reaction to the run started by Atlanta Hawks' rookie Zaccharie Risacher.
Atlanta Hawks, Victor Wembanyama
Atlanta Hawks, Victor Wembanyama / FRANCK FIFE/GettyImages

With the No. 1 overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks selected Zaccharie Risacher, a 6-foot-9-plus forward who figures to bolster their defensive efforts until his offensive game develops.

He was the first of four French-born players to be selected in the draft’s first-round, marking a historic night for the game international and for France, in particular.

It was so notable that San Antonio Spurs star Victor Wembanyama had to react.

C’est la France frère,” Wembanyama posted on X on June 26. The phrase translates to “It’s France brother” and perfectly underscores the sentiments of many, including Risacher.

"That's amazing," Risacher said, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps on June 26. "We are trying to represent our country, and I'm so glad to be a part of it. There is more players coming in. I'm really proud of being a part of the success of my country."

Fellow Frenchman Alexandre Sarr, the No. 2 overall pick to the Wizards, expressed similar sentiments and said he was “excited” about their national team’s future prospects.

This marked the first time French players went No. 1 in back-to-back years.

Tidjane Salaun went No. 6 overall to the Charlotte Hornets while the New York Knicks selected Pacome Dadiet with the No. 25 pick. They could all join Wembanyama to give France one of the toughest groups in international play.

Risacher and Sarr join an even more exclusive club as just the second French-born player to be selected No. 1 overall (Risacher) and the third to go in the top 3 (Sarr).

There have been six French-born players selected in the top-10 of the draft.

Hawks GM gets honest about Zaccharie Risacher

As excited as Hawks general manager Landry Fields was about picking Risacher, he did not act oblivious to the areas in which the youngster must improve, most notably strength on his 194-pound frame.

He is encouraged by Risacher’s ability to space the floor (39% 3P in 2023)

“Shooting; that looks pretty good from what we've seen,” Fields told reporters on June 26. “I do think defensively he'll have to get stronger and take contact. But he plays with contact and we've seen him play through contact. So early on players that are able to get on the floor typically impact the defensive side. But with him to have kind of both, that’s something that should be good for him.”

Fields would not project roles or minutes. But there are many reasons for them to get Risacher on the floor as soon as possible.

“It's hard to project out in terms of playing minutes and all that stuff,” Field said. “But, of course, we want him to be the absolute best player he can be. Now, how we're defining franchise player, I'll leave that to you. But there's nobody that wants to see him succeed more than than us, and we're going to absolutely set him up to do that.”

That may be a necessary bit of reassurance for some.

As the Hawks had issues scheduling Sarr for a private pre-draft workout, rumors of prospects ducking the Hawks last season surfaced. It is all lip service until it plays out. But the Hawks are attempting to put on their best public face in the wake of their latest franchise-defining decision.