Rockets join the French Renaissance in the latest NBA mock drafts

Rockets join the French Renaissance in the latest NBA mock drafts


It shouldn’t be too early to start looking towards the 2024 NBA Draft, right? While the Houston Rockets’ first round pick is likely to convey to the Oklahoma City Thunder, there remains the gleeful reminder that Houston will get the Brooklyn Nets pick this summer. The good news for the Rockets is that the Nets currently find themselves stuck in mediocrity, destined to deliver a top 10 pick to the Rockets’ doorsteps.

Although that pick won’t land the Rockets another top four pick in what’s projected as a weaker draft, there still will be a handful of players with plenty of upside between the eighth and tenth spot. Among those players is another rising French prospect, Tidjane Salaun, in a draft that could feature the top two picks coming from the emerging basketball nation.

Coming off the heels of Victor Wembanyama going first overall in last year’s draft, and Bilal Coulibaly going seventh to the Washington Wizards, France is primed to take the main stage once again on the first night of the draft (reminder that there will be two nights of television starting this year).

Alexandre Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher hold the top two spots in most mock drafts at this time with Salaun hovering around the top ten, and Melvin Ajinca on the fringe of the first round. For the Rockets, Salaun would be the most likely option, unless the Brooklyn pick vaults historically up in the draft lottery. As for if Salaun is a great fit for Houston, there’s still plenty of time to figure that out.

He’ll still be 18 on draft night and with ideal size and potential to grow into a good shooter, it wouldn’t be hard to talk oneself into adding him into this bunch. A lot can happen between now and June so we shall see.

As for the rise in France’s basketball prowess on the global scale, it’s become something to monitor on the American front. The Silver Medalists from the 2021 Olympics have only generated more NBA talent in the time that has passed since the last games, and they will most likely be the yanks stiffest competition in the upcoming Paris Games.

So much so that it looks like Team USA has broken the glass on Redeem Team: Volume Whatever after we’ve stumbled along too many times to count for the past half decade.

France is no stranger to putting NBA level talent in the league, most famously the likes of Tony Parker and Boris Diaw. Others have come along that have further established the Frenchmen’s cause such as, Nic Batum, Evan Fournier and 3x DPOY, Rudy Gobert. However, it hasn’t been until the past few years that we started to see French players pop up more frequently near the top of the draft.

There have been some cautionary tales as Frank Ntilikina, Sekou Doumbouya and Killian Hayes were taken relatively high without panning out, but the narrative surrounding French lottery picks will probably see it’s stock rise with the arrival of Wemby, Sarr and Risacher. The verdict is still out on the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Ousmane Dieng, and Coulibaly, but time will tell as the NBA game continues to become more friendly to international imports.

Circling back to Houston, I wonder if they too will embrace the French, much like the San Antonio Spurs have done over time. The France to San Antonio pipeline has worked out nicely for the Spurs so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add a few of Wemby’s countrymen to further satisfy their franchise player.

Perhaps the Rockets can also get in on the ground floor of the French Renaissance by landing someone from this year’s class, thus crippling their interstate rivals plans.

Au Revoir!

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