Sunday, July 21, 2024

NBA Draft: Frenchmen Zaccharie Risacher (Hawks), Alex Sarr (Wizards) go 1-2; Final mock for Bronny James

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🏀 Good morning to everyone, but especially to …

ZACCHARIE RISACHER

For the second consecutive year, a French player went No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft. This year, it was Zaccharie Risacher, who heard his name called by the Atlanta Hawks.

Risacher, 19, began his pro career by playing for ASVEL Basket, the team owned by former San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker. Last season, Risacher was loaned to JL Bourg, where he immediately became a standout.

In 23 games, Risacher averaged 11.3 points per game while shooting 54.1% from the field and 45.0% from beyond the arc. Our own Sam Quinn says Risacher still has some work to do on that shot, but he has all the physical tools necessary to become a star in the NBA.

  • Quinn: “He has good defensive tools, can handle the ball and has, at times, flashed an impressive jumper. He is streaky on that front, and his NBA future may very well be dictated by how much that shot develops, but he brings a little bit of everything to the table as a 19-year-old. If he grows into the sort of player the Hawks think he can be, then he has a chance to be the kind of wing that fits onto any roster regardless of who else it has.”

CBS Sports NBA expert Adam Finkelstein graded each first-round selection, and the Hawks earned a solid “B” for their Risacher pick. It may not be flashy on the surface, but Risacher’s ceiling is high.

The No. 1 overall pick really came down to a pair of Frenchmen, with Alex Sarr coming off the board immediately after Risacher, going to the Washington Wizards at No. 2 overall. A third French player, Tidjane Salaun, was drafted at No. 6 overall by the Charlotte Hornets.

For those like myself, who didn’t get past freshman algebra in college, that means half of the first six picks were from France. That makes French basketball one of Brad Botkin’s clear winners from the first round.

Check out every pick from the first round (and follow the second round later today) with our 2024 NBA Draft Tracker. It was also a busy night on the trade market, so be sure to review the wheeling and dealing with our trade tracker.

👍 Honorable mentions

💸 And not such a good morning for …

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DALTON KNECHT

Every year, there seems to be a player forced to endure a slide on national TV. This year, that player was Dalton Knecht, former Tennessee star.

Knecht was projected to be a top-10 pick in this year’s draft, and our CBS Sports experts expected him to slip no lower than No. 8 overall. Instead, Knecht had to wait well beyond the No. 10 overall selection until the Los Angeles Lakers eventually took him with the No. 17 pick.

In some ways, that may be a blessing for Knecht — if not for new coach JJ Redick and LeBron James — said CBS Sports NBA writer James Herbert.

But there are some very clear drawbacks to his slippage. Knecht’s pride might have been a little bruised in the moment, but his financial portfolio will endure the biggest hit. Knecht could only watch as millions of dollars left his bank account with every team that passed on him. That’s why our own Brad Botkin listed Knecht as one of the first round’s biggest losers.

  • Botkin: “As the No. 17 pick, Knecht is slated to make $18.5 million over his first four years in the league. Had he gone No. 6, he would’ve been in line for over $34 million. Playing with LeBron is cool and all, but give me the $16 million. There is no guarantee that any draft pick, no matter where they go, will make it in the NBA. But the money on the first-round slots is guaranteed through the first three seasons.”

Of course, one player’s loss could be another team’s gain. That was certainly the case for the Lakers.

Not only did Brad have the Lakers down as a big winner for landing perhaps the biggest steal of the opening round, but the pick also earned the only “A+” of the night in Adam Finkelstein’s draft grades.

👎 Not so honorable mentions

⚾ MLB mid-season grades

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The 2024 MLB season is already halfway over, and it’s time to send report cards home.

Our MLB experts have handed out mid-season grades to each team, and there are a handful of honor roll students. A few teams, including the defending World Series champions, will have to attend summer school if they don’t get things straightened out.

The only team that received an “A+” was the Philadelphia Phillies. They sit atop the NL East with a 53-27 record, and the Phils have a 7.5-game cushion over the Atlanta Braves. Everything is clicking for Philly right now, as our own Dayn Perry explains.

  • Perry: “You know about Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. This year, however, Ranger Suárez and Cristopher Sánchez have pitched on their level so far, and that gives the Phillies frontline-grade rotation depth that’s the envy of almost every other team in MLB. On the other side of things, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm, and Kyle Schwarber have helmed what’s been a top-tier offensive attack so far.”

Another valedictorian candidate is the Cleveland Guardians, a team that has come out of nowhere to absolutely bludgeon opponents with an electric power surge.

If the Phillies and Guardians are at the top of the class, the Texas Rangers need to find some extra credit.

The defending champs are six games under .500 and 7.5 games out of first place in the AL West. That poor performance was enough to earn the Rangers one of a few “F” grades.

🏈 Bryce Young ready to put rookie year in the rearview

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The No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is already looking for a bounce-back season. Bryce Young‘s rookie season was a disaster, but the Carolina Panthers quarterback has already put it in his rearview mirror.

Young is coming off a season in which he averaged just 179.8 yards per game, threw one fewer interception (10) than touchdowns (11) and got sacked a whopping 62 times. That probably wasn’t the NFL debut the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner was expecting.

Our own Jonthan Jones sat down with Young, who is already taking steps to shake off his brutal 2023 campaign. Young knows dwelling on the failures and hardships of last year won’t help him improve in 2024.

  • Young: “I’m big on controlling what I can control and making sure that that’s what’s focusing. Whatever happened the past year — the good, the bad, whatever. It’s not something that I can control. It’s not something that holds sway over what we’re doing anymore. So I think the more energy you put on stuff that doesn’t have any effect on what we’re trying to be. You can take away from the goal in itself.”

One reason to believe Young can take a leap forward in 2024 is the coaching staff overhaul. Turnover isn’t usually good for young QBs, but when the team went 2-15, how much can it really hurt?

Former Buccaneers OC Dave Canales is now the head man in Carolina, and he helped revive Baker Mayfield‘s career in Tampa last season. The Panthers also went out and traded for receiver Diontae Johnson and spent big money to improve their offensive line.

Still, Young does lacks elite weapons on the outside. The Panthers have zero players in our ranking of the top 20 NFL wide receivers. Maybe rookie Xavier Legette can change that in 2025.

📺 What we’re watching Thursday

Rocket Mortgage Classic — Round 1, 3 p.m. on Golf Channel
🏀 2024 NBA Draft — Second Round, 4 p.m. on ESPN
Copa America — Panama at USA, 6 p.m. on Fox
🏅 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, 6 p.m. on USA Network
🏒 2024 NHL Awards, 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Aces at Sky, 7 p.m. on Prime Video
🏅 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, 8 p.m. on NBC
Guardians at Royals, 8:10 p.m. on FS1
Copa America — Uruguay at Bolivia, 9 p.m. on Fox
🏀 Fever at Storm, 10 p.m. on Prime Video

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