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Matas Buzelis Wants To Play Zaccharie Risacher In A 1-On-1 Showdown Of Top Prospects

The 2024 NBA Draft doesn’t feature a truly elite No. 1 prospect, which means there won’t be as much buzz for the lottery itself (whereas last year was teams hoping to land the right to take Victor Wembanyama) but the Draft itself could be fascinating.

Big boards figure to vary considerably from team to team and we might see some surprising selections in the lottery as some might pick more off of fit and need, while others may be more interested in really leaning into taking a gamble on potential. The top of this year’s class is also very heavy on overseas and non-college talent, only adding to the mystery of it all for many stateside fans. Alex Sarr (Australia) and Zaccharie Risacher (France) are the two names that most frequently come up in the top spot in this Draft, with Nikola Topic (Serbia) and Matas Buzelis (G League Ignite) both in the conversation for top-5 picks.

Buzelis and Ron Holland will be the final two products of the G League Ignite program that the NBA is now shutting down, and Buzelis is hoping to make a final push during the pre-Draft workout portion of the process for a top spot. Buzelis spoke with BasketNews this week after ESPN released their latest mock that had Risacher going first and Buzelis going sixth, with the Ignite product explaining he wants a crack at Rissacher in 1-on-1 to prove that he’s better at “everything” than the French prospect.

“Of course, I want to see him one-on-one. He just doesn’t want to do that with me. His agent will not do that with me, and I know he won’t. It’s a business decision,” Buzelis responded to BasketNews when asked if he would like to challenge Risacher in the NBA pre-draft workout.

“My advantage is that I have everything over him,” he added when asked about his main advantage that would enable him to win this duel.

I love this from Buzelis. Having a little spice and that kind of self-confidence is a good thing, even if Rissacher is right not to have any desire to take him up on that offer. There is no upside for Rissacher in this situation, as he could only hurt his standing in such a matchup, while Buzelis has everything to gain. That said, it’s just good business by Buzelis to make this kind of statement. We’ve already seen this year how fun it is to have a couple young guys with similar builds come into the league with a rivalry with one another in Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren, and while Risacher and Buzelis aren’t likely to be near their levels as rookies, it’s still a good thing to have a little Draft beef make for some young rivalries in the league.

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