Matas Buzelis

Why Matas Buzelis challenged No. 1 pick Zaccharie Risacher ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft

The newest Chicago Bull tried to stir up the pot before the "wide-open" draft

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Before the 2024 NBA Draft, the newest Chicago Bull, Matas Buzelis, challenged future No. 1 pick Zaccharie Risacher to a one-on-one.

"Of course, I want to see him one-on-one," Buzelis told Donatas Urbonas of Basket News in March. "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. ... My advantage is that I have everything over him."

It appeared to be a draft stock play. Leading up to the draft, scouts and pundits gave Risacher his flowers as the projected No. 1 pick. But Buzelis wanted to prove he could compete with the best of his class.

For what it's worth, the consensus about the 2024 draft class is that the class is fairly mundane. You're not going to find a bona fide All-Star out of the gates. No one is calling for any draft prospect to be the focal point in turning around a franchise.

With nothing to lose from that analysis, Buzelis tried to stir the pot leading up to draft day.

"I definitely view myself as No. 1, for sure. I know the work I put in. I know this draft is wide open and everyone is trying to compete for it," Buzelis told Shams Charania on Tuesday. "That's really why I started challenging him. Why not? Let's start some competition. Let's try to get our hands dirty."

A one-on-one between Risacher, who ended up being drafted by the Hawks with the first pick, and Buzelis would've been entertaining. Buzelis has the height advantage over Risacher, but the latter is the better defender, certainly.

It's intriguing for Bulls fans to see the competitor Buzelis is. It's not every day an NBA prospect calls out another ahead of the draft. But that's who the Bulls are getting in Buzelis --- a fierce competitor.

"I respect Zach (Risacher) as a player… He just doesn’t want to see me," Buzelis told Charania. "I'm just going to keep it real with everybody. He doesn't want to see me and I'm gonna stand on that. The offer still stands. And I'm waiting on a response."

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