Zaccharie Risacher isn’t done improving his NBA Draft stock

Detroit Bad Boys

While the vast majority of prospects were in Chicago taking measurements and competing in the NBA Draft Combine, Zaccharie Risacher was preparing for playoff basketball.

On Thursday, the 6-foot-9 French wing helped JL Bourg secure a 92-82 victory against Nanterre in Game 1 of the LNB Pro A playoffs. He scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds on an efficient night from the field. Although Risacher isn’t known for his shot creation skills, he tied the game in the fourth quarter with a smooth self-created midrange jumper.

Now, Risacher’s JL Bourg squad is one win away from the French league’s semifinal round. Should Bourg keep rolling, Risacher has an opportunity not only to compete for a championship, but to put together additional tape to show why he’s one of the best prospects in this year’s NBA Draft.

At the NBA level, Risacher projects to fill a desired role on any team as a three-and-D wing. Although he went through recent shooting struggles, he’s shot the three at a 38.8% clip in his pre-draft season on 3.5 attempts per game.

Risacher’s shooting slump, where he shot just 26.9% from three in the month of April, caused his draft stock to stall across various draft boards. He’s slowly bounced back, though, shooting 38.5% from deep over three games thus far in May.

The decrease in Risacher’s stock may bode well for the Pistons after they fell to No. 5 in the NBA Draft Lottery. Perth big man Alex Sarr is seen as the top prospect in many eyes, with players like UConn center Donovan Clingan and Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard climbing up the ranks. So, there could be a world where Risacher is still available once the Pistons are on the clock at five.

The possibility of Risacher slipping on draft night may be all smoke, however. The Atlanta Hawks, who won the NBA Draft Lottery with just a 3% chance, sent their top brass to watch Risacher help JL Bourg defeat Nanterre Thursday.

Atlanta’s general manager Landry Fields, head coach Quin Snyder and former sharpshooter and current assistant general manager Kyle Korver sat courtside for the Risacher show.

I’m sure the Hawks were doing their due diligence, as they will on all of the draft’s top talents. As far as we know, the overseas trip may have been planned before Atlanta saw the ping pong balls fall their way.

Still, I took pause seeing the Hawks contingent front and center to scout Risacher. While Sarr feels like the clear top prospect in this year’s class, is there a shot Atlanta opts for Risacher instead? Or could they find a deal with a team who wants Sarr and still remain in a position to take Risacher? Atlanta still has Clint Capela, even though there’s just one year left on his deal, and Onyeka Okongwu, who signed a four-year, $62 million rookie extension in October.

Okongwu feels like Atlanta’s center in waiting once the Capela era comes to a close. Maybe the Hawks want to see it through with Okongwu and don’t want to clear their center room in favor of Sarr. Maybe, just maybe, Risacher is the player that best fits their long term plans with the No. 1 pick.

At this point in the process, it’s all tea leaves. After the lottery didn’t fall in the Pistons’ favor, they’re at the mercy of the teams who saw better fortune.

For Risacher as a prospect, I tend to look toward the larger sample size of a full season over a poor stretch. He’s shown efficiency as a 3-point shooter in a professional league, connecting on 38.8% of attempts over 59 games. That’s close to double the sample size you see from collegiate prospects. It shows not only efficiency, but longevity. Risacher has been an effective player for JL Bourg even if you include colder stretches.

He plays an offensive role as an off-ball mover that can knock down shots or cut to the hoop and finish with his length and athleticism. He’s a versatile defender who possesses the ability to guard multiple positions. Combined with the length, Risacher could be a staunch perimeter defender in the NBA that can also help down low as a secondary rim protector.

Risacher isn’t done playing high-level basketball before he hears his name called in the NBA Draft next month. JL Bourg meets Nanterre again for Game 2 in a best-of-three series Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. Their games are usually streamed on the NBA App. If JL Bourg advances, Risacher will get to play in a best-of-five semifinal round, then a best-of-five final would follow.

A playoff run gives Risacher the opportunity to prove himself to NBA scouts one last time in game action, which also provides teams with more opportunities to see how he reacts in important moments.

Through one playoff game, it’s so far, so good for Risacher. With more action in meaningful games, his draft stock may only rise.

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