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Blazers Take French Wing Rayan Rupert With 43rd Pick

Portland selects the big wing with its second rounder.

2023 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Lawrence/NBAE via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers selected French forward Rayan Rupert with the 43rd pick in the NBA Draft.

The 6’8 defender played for the New Zealand Breakers in the Australian NBL last season, putting up 6.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.8 steaks in an injury-plagued year.

The 19-year-old’s defensive attributes are helped along by a 7’3 wingspan. He also carries pedigree as the son of former French national captain Thierry Rupert

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor has likened Rupert to Tony Allen and Otto Porter Jr., highlighting his point-of-attack defense and his ability to slip around screens.

O’Connor calls him a skilled ball handler who looks fluid dribbling into pull-up jumpers but at this point is considered a streaky shooter, making only 25 percent from three last season.

Additionally, Jordan Cummings’ of SLC Dunk spotlighted Rupert as a potential steal for his versatility and defense, and Cummings wrote that with Rupert projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick.

Rupert’s size and absurd wingspan allow him to switch 1-3 on defense and cause disruption on that end of the floor. He fights through screens, has good recovery speed when he gets beat, and always plays with high effort. He is capable of completely smothering opposing ball handlers in isolation and pick and roll action. Rupert uses his quick hands and fast reaction time to disrupt passing lanes or poke the ball loose when defending on-ball, forcing frequent turnovers. He has good feet and hips to stay glued to his assignment defensively.

At [the 28th pick], he would be a spectacular pick with low risk and extreme upside. He’ll likely need a year or two either overseas or in the G League before he’s ready for NBA action.

Blazers Assistant General Manager Mike Schmitz drew attention to Rupert in January last year, describing the draftee as “super intriguing”.

Fellow Frenchman and former Blazer Nicolas Batum was pretty pleased with the pick.

A 6’8 , 19 y/o, SF, light skinned from Le Mans France drafted by Rip City… I’ve seen that before. Great pic Portland. Happy for lil bro Rayan

Rupert is the third rookie taken by the Blazers with Scoot Henderson going at pick 3 and Kris Murray at pick 23.