Dieng and Besson picked in NBA draft

French Breakers duo Hugo Besson (above) and Ousmane Dieng (below) have made the leap to the NBA....
French Breakers duo Hugo Besson (above) and Ousmane Dieng (below) have made the leap to the NBA. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The New Zealand Breakers’ French duo have taken their long-awaited leaps to the NBA.

Ousmane Dieng and Hugo Besson were both chosen in yesterday’s NBA draft in Brooklyn, New York.

The duo spent last season with the Breakers in the Australian NBL.

Dieng was drafted by the New York Knicks with the 11th pick.

However, the pick had already been traded and it is the Oklahoma City Thunder — the first and longest team of New Zealand’s Steven Adams — that he will play for.

A 2.08m forward, Dieng signed with the Breakers as part of the NBL’s Next Star programme.

The programme aims to attract young stars to the league, giving them an alternative option to college to bridge the gap between high school and the NBA.

The players’ contracts are paid for by the NBL and get bought out by the NBA teams if they are drafted.

That buy-out money then gets split between the NBL and the team they played for — meaning the Breakers are in for a financial gain.

It is a programme that has produced several other NBA players, including former Breakers guard RJ Hampton and NBA all star LaMelo Ball.

Dieng, who recently turned 19, struggled early on for the Breakers, but began to show his value later in the season.

His length, athleticism and skill level has drawn comparisons to Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who many consider the world’s best player.

Fellow Frenchman Besson was drafted 58th by the Indiana Pacers, although was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Besson (21) had signed with the Breakers as an import and was impressive in the team’s back court.

Fundamentally sound, he showed his ability to shoot from deep and averaged just shy of 14 points per game.

Italian forward Paolo Bachero, who most recently played for Duke University, was chosen first by the Orlando Magic.

He was followed by an American duo — skilled centre Chet Holmgren and impressive shooting forward Jabari Smith — chosen by the Thunder and Houston Rockets, respectively.

Australian star Dyson Daniels, who played in the G League last season, was chosen eighth by the New Orleans Pelicans.

Fellow Australian Luke Travers, who played for the Perth Wildcats, went 56th to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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