NBA Draft: Wizards select 7-foot-1 center Alex Sarr with No. 2 overall pick

Alex Sarr is headed to Washington.

Sarr, who many had long expected would be the top overall pick, was selected by the Wizards with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft on Wednesday night. That makes Sarr the second Frenchman to be selected in the draft after the Atlanta Hawks took Zaccharie Risacher ahead of him.

The move was the second significant one the Wizards made on Wednesday afternoon. The franchise struck a deal to send Deni Avdija to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Malcolm Brogdon, the No. 14 overall pick in this year’s draft and a 2029 pick.

Sarr is easily one of the best players in this year’s draft class. The 19-year-old center is a great rim protector and a pick-and-pop threat on offense. At 7-foot-1, Sarr can develop into a dominant two-way big in the league.

Alex Sarr, the second French teenager off the board in this year's draft, spent last season with the Perth Wildcats in Australia.Alex Sarr, the second French teenager off the board in this year's draft, spent last season with the Perth Wildcats in Australia.

Alex Sarr, the second French teenager off the board in this year’s draft, spent last season with the Perth Wildcats in Australia. (Paul Kane/Getty Images)

He shined in the Australian league last season with the Perth Wildcats, where he put up 9.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Sarr helped lead the team into the semifinals of the NBL playoffs before he officially declared for the NBA Draft. He’s now the highest draft pick to be selected out of the National Basketball League, surpassing LaMelo Ball — who went No. 3 overall in 2020.

“My versatility on the court went to another level this season,” Sarr told ESPN in April. “My consistency got better. On offense, being able to play inside out, making good reads on defense in pick-and-roll coverages.”

While he’s still a teenager, Sarr has already played all over the world. He signed with Real Madrid when he was just 14, and then he played with Overtime Elite for two seasons before joining Perth. Sarr’s older brother, Olivier Sarr, just finished his third season in the league with the Oklahoma City Thunder organization, though he ruptured his left Achilles tendon in the G League Finals earlier this spring.

Sarr has pretty much been considered a lock for the Wizards shortly after he declined to work out with the Hawks ahead of the draft. Though he didn’t get into specifics about that decision, he seemed confident with it and enjoyed his workout with the Wizards.

“I have a great team around me … I trust them,” Sarr said Tuesday, via The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver. “I’m not going to get into the specifics of where I worked out and where I didn’t.”

Regardless, Sarr is a much better fit in Washington than he would be in Atlanta. The Wizards don’t have a true center or much of an inside game after they dealt Daniel Gafford away last season. Sarr will be able to jump in right away and start developing from the jump, which is something that should benefit him in the long run, considering the Wizards aren’t likely to be very good yet again.

The franchise went just 15-67 last season and missed the playoffs for a third straight time. The team split from head coach Wes Unseld Jr., too, and has since hired first-time head coach Brian Keefe to take his place. The Wizards are still very much in rebuilding mode and could be in position for another top pick a year from now.

Though it will take time, Sarr could be the first true piece to that puzzle.

First appeared on sports.yahoo.com

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