NBA draft prospect Zaccharie Risacher gives Hawks the highest ceiling

Editor’s note: With the Hawks holding the No. 1 pick in the coming NBA draft, there are plenty of opinions on what the team should do with the selection. Each week before the draft starts June 26, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will present one opinion. This week: Jake Fischer from Yahoo Sports.

Less than two weeks remain until the NBA draft, and the Hawks have gotten some of their top targets in the building for workouts. But that doesn’t mean the Hawks are much closer to their decision, and they have a lot of things to continue to think about as they mull over their pick.

But many draft analysts and NBA insiders seem to lean toward French wing Zaccharie Risacher as the front-runner for who the Hawks may pick. In Monday’s episode of the Hawks Report podcast presented by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Yahoo Sports senior NBA reporter Jake Fischer broke down why experts project Risacher as the likely top pick in this month’s draft.

“I would probably lean toward Risacher right now, just being that A) in general across the league, these games are being decided on the perimeter,” Fischer said. “We’re watching it in the (NBA Finals), right now, with Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown being these big wings that can go and get anywhere on the floor anytime they want. And the Hawks don’t exactly have a surefire, clear-cut, like wing of the future.”

Fischer added that while the Hawks have Jalen Johnson in their rotation, the team likely envisions the 22-year-old forward as more of a point forward and that selecting Risacher would allow him to develop alongside Johnson.

The Hawks are in the unique position of being able to draft the best player available while addressing some the things that their rotation and lineups need. For Fischer though, the Hawks should take the guy with the highest possible ceiling and continue to build around that talent.

“I think at that point, you pick the guy that you think has the highest possible ceiling,” he said. “Like, I’m as big a Jalen Johnson fan as there is out there, and I flew down to Atlanta right before the trade deadline. We talked for 40 minutes, I spent time talking to his high school coach and his parents and people at Duke and people who were around him at the Skyhawks for a couple of games. Like I’m a big fan of that guy.

“But if you think someone in the draft is the best player in this draft, and he has the ultimate ceiling of all these prospects; Atlanta has been the most clear-cut definition of mediocre for the last four years. And if that’s where you stand as a franchise, you can’t afford to, you know; you don’t want to be Phoenix or Sacramento six years later and say, ‘Why didn’t we take Luka Doncic because we were afraid that he wouldn’t fit with Devin Booker, or we were afraid he wouldn’t fit with De’Aaron Fox.’ Those guys are phenomenal All-Stars in their own right.

“But now Luka is playing with Kyrie Irving, and he was having success with Jalen Brunson. Like there’s multiple guards, there’s multiple bigs, you know. I think Minnesota at the other end of the scale, these teams are just showing you got to get talent together and figure it out. And I just think that’s what the Hawks ultimately do, too.”