The French Connection: NBA Atlantic Division

Evan Fournier - French

Throughout the NBA, plenty of chatter has been gravitating towards France ever since Victor Wembanyama, the French phenom, was selected first overall in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Let’s break down some of the French transactions regarding teams in the upper east side of the NBA playground.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics have picked at least two players from France. The first, Jerome Moiso, joined the team way back in 2000. Another would be Guerschon Yabusele, whom the Celtics landed in the 2016 NBA Draft. Both players did not have long stints in Boston. Moiso would only play 24 games for the Celtics while Yabusele stayed with the team for two years.

Another fun fact that fans might not know is that one of Boston’s most legendary players has a small link to France. Bob Cousy was born in the USA, but his parents were French immigrants. His basketball career in college and at the professional level will always be connected to the Massachusetts area.

Philadelphia 76ers

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, born in the southeast corner of France, joined the Sixers through the 2016 NBA Draft. If his name slipped your mind, it is because all eyes were on Australian Ben Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick that year. Another French player Philadelphia drafted was Theo Maledon in 2020; he never played for the team since they traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

New York Knicks

In 1999, the Knicks selected Frederic Weis. Weis, the following year, would gain worldwide popularity when Vince Carter jumped over him before a big dunk during the 2000 Olympics. It was called the “Dunk of Death” and might have had a negative impact on his career. Weis did not play for the Knicks the year after he was drafted and never suited up for the Knicks, or any other NBA team, after that dunk.

So if we have to look for a French player who recently got some playing time for the Knicks, we would have to point to Evan Fournier. Fournier played more than 100 games for New York in the past two years. The question regarding Fournier right now is about his future with the team ever since he showed some frustration about being stuck on the bench last season.

Brooklyn Nets

One of the recent “French” transactions would have to be Timothé Luwawau-Cabarrot, whom the Nets signed to a two-way contract. He stayed with the team from 2019 to 2021 and played around 18 minutes per game. Unfortunately, he was always known as the “serviceable backup” and never got too much playing time with the five NBA teams for which he played.

Toronto Raptors

French is one of two official languages in Canada, so it is a little surprising that the team only brought in a few players from France over the years. You also have Mickael Pietrus, who ended his NBA career with the Raptors in 2013, Alexis Ajinca, who played a total of 24 games during the 2010-11 season, and Nando de Colo, who appeared in 21 games around nine years ago. You can also add Boston’s Moiso, who once played for the Raptors, to the list.

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