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Duke’s Cooper Flagg bucks trend, goes No. 1 ahead of Rutgers’ Ace Bailey

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Duke’s Cooper Flagg bucks trend, goes No. 1 ahead of Rutgers’ Ace Bailey


A player from France has been selected No. 1 in each of the past two NBA Drafts — first Victor Wembanyama in 2023, then Zaccharie Risacher in 2024. That streak should end next year because, barring a surprise, the first player selected in the 2025 NBA Draft will be Cooper Flagg, the projected one-and-done star at Duke.

He’s American.

He’s terrific.

He’s been an undeniable star at the high school level (and on the grassroots circuit) for years, so much so that I really do believe all 30 NBA franchises would take the 6-foot-9 forward first overall if next year’s draft were held right now. Could things change between now and next June? Yes — and they often do. But Flagg is such a well-rounded and high-level prospect that it’s difficult to imagine anybody replacing him at the top of draft boards, especially if he’s so awesome at Duke that he keeps the Blue Devils near the top of the national rankings all season. For what it’s worth, they’re currently ninth in the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 preseason college basketball rankings.

As you’ve likely heard, tanking isn’t as good of a strategy as it once was in the NBA with the lottery odds now flattened; even if you have the best odds to get the No. 1 pick, you don’t have good odds to get the No. 1 pick. That acknowledged, #TankForFlagg should be a popular hashtag next NBA season. The Brooklyn Nets are already headed that direction. Expect more franchises to join them in due time.

(NOTE: Team needs were not considered when assembling this lottery projection because it’s impossible to know who will be picking where this time next year. In other words, think of this as a big board more than you think of it as a mock draft. The lottery order was set by this past season’s lottery odds and should not be considered a prediction on how the 2024-25 NBA season will unfold.)



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