3. The mouthwatering defensive impact of Sidy Cissoko
With guys like Jeremy Sochan, Zach Collins, and Victor Wembanyam, the Spurs are constructing a defensive-minded roster. They continued to stick to that philosphy when they added Sidy Cissoko with the 44th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and the G League Ignite product is already proving he can be one of the most versatile stoppers on the team.
Cissoko has shown he has all the tools to be a stellar perimeter defender. Standing 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, the sturdy teenager is already built like a grown man. He should be able to match up against most forwards and switch onto guards from the second he sets foot on the court.
The French native makes timely rotations, knows when to go over or under screens when defending the pick-and-roll, and is a pest as the primary ball defender. Cissoko was immediately put to the test against the number two overall pick Brandon Miller in his first summer league action, and Sidy never backed down. He forced turnovers, contested shots, slid his feet, and made life tough for the former Alabama wing.
Miller finished with 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field, but if you watched that game, you know those numbers only tell half of the story. Cissoko spent most of the evening defending Miller, who finished with a team-high five turnovers. Even though he nailed a late three over Sidy, that was about the only time he got loose for a bucket when the second-rounder was covering him.
It hasn’t been just one game where Sidy displayed his defensive talent, it has been all summer long, and that alone should earn him a roster spot. With San Antonio's second unit desperately needing a more substantial defensive presence, Cissoko can make an impact on that end of the court from the get-go.
The fun from the Summer League doesn’t stop at those three players. There were many other bright spots on the squad that we could discuss at length. From Julian Champagnie’s stand-out scoring to Dominick Barlow’s two-way potential, Spurs fans have so much to be excited about heading into next season. There’s a bright future in the 2-1-0, and it’s only just beginning.