The 2023 NBA Draft is in the rearview mirror and the Spurs have bolstered their rebuilding roster with a handful of fresh faces. San Antonio snatched Victor Wembanyama with the first overall pick, traded their next selection for future assets, and spent their remaining second-rounder to add Sidy Cissoko to their burgeoning core of talented youngsters.
Though it will be years before a final verdict arrives on whether or not General Manager Brian Wright played his cards correctly in this draft, it is never too early to look at how the prospects San Antonio landed might mesh with their long-term goals. Should fans applaud the Spurs? Or do they deserve a failing grade on their first assignment of the offseason?
Everyone knew Victor Wembanyama would be the first overall pick on Thursday night, and there was never a chance the Spurs were considering anyone else after winning the NBA Draft Lottery a month ago. Scouts have long touted the 7-foot-5 Frenchman as the greatest prospect in basketball history, a designation he will soon have a chance to substantiate as he becomes the centerpiece of an iconic franchise with an illustrious track record of postseason success.
Wembanyama has the potential to become the best player in the league, and he offers the Silver and Black a cornerstone to build around for the next decade. With an eight-foot wingspan, unique fluidity, nimble feet, and spectacular rim-protecting instincts, the teenage center covers nearly every inch of the hardwood. He makes unbelievable weakside rotations, switches onto perimeter players, and even blocks three-pointers on closeouts that begin inside of the paint.
His defensive impact could be borderline generational from day one, but he is a mouthwatering talent on the opposite end of the court. Wembanyama handles and shoots the ball like a guard, and he uses his height and length to whip passes from a variety of strange angles. Consistency and shot selection have kept him from being an efficient scorer, though the increased spacing, faster pace, and offense-friendly officiating of the NBA should benefit as he adjusts to the 2-1-0.
San Antonio received phenomenal value when they took Sidy Cissoko with the 44th overall pick in the second round of the 2023 NBA Draft. Although a handful of his G League Ignite teammates and fellow compatriots overshadowed him in this class, the French teenager flashed enticing two-way skills that could help him become a fixture in the rotation. He had a first-round grade on several mainstream Big Boards, and the rest of the league might regret letting him slip to the Spurs.
Cissoko is most dangerous in transition, where he can snag rebounds, push the pace, and attack the rim against an unset defense. At 6-foot-8, he also holds value as a mismatch pick-and-roll playmaker who can use his functional handle and impressive court vision to deliver pinpoint pocket passes to a roll-man or kickouts to wide-open corner shooters. His erratic three-point shooting hurt his ability to provide adequate spacing, and his progression in that area will determine his ceiling.
Positional versatility and switchability is the name of the game in the NBA, and Cissoko fits the mold of what every front office is looking for in a modern wing. He has the lateral mobility to cover guards, the length to suffocate forwards, and the strength to hold his ground inside of the post. His man-to-man defense is rock solid, but his remarkable off-ball awareness and motor raise his upside. While he is foul-prone and physical to a fault, the coaching staff could rid him of those bad habits.