Spurs: Floor, middle, and ceiling player comparisons for Sidy Cissoko

San Antonio Spurs forward Sidy Cissoko at the 2023 California Classic Summer League. Cissoko was the 44th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
San Antonio Spurs forward Sidy Cissoko at the 2023 California Classic Summer League. Cissoko was the 44th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. / PATRICK T. FALLON/GettyImages
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Ceiling Outcome: Modern Mix Between Boris Diaw, O.G. Anunoby & Anthony Mason

Finally comes the best part — the search for Cissoko’s apex. An illusive, abstract, borderline absurd proposition for a teenage prospect. But here we are, attempting to find the proper colors to illustrate a realistic depiction of his fully-realized potential.

Picture, all in one vessel: an indomitable freight train on the fastbreak who makes plays for others and finishes with force a la Anthony Mason; an indefatigable lockdown defender who guards up and down the lineup with solid perimeter shooting in the mold of O.G. Anunoby; and a Boris Diaw-esque jumbo facilitator able to get to his spots at will with his frame and bend the defense for optimal distribution angles in the halfcourt.

This outcome depends heavily on Cissoko matching Anunoby's steadiness in catch-and-shoot situations; over the last four seasons, the Toronto Raptors forward has shot 40 percent from three on those plays. After that, the rest seems fairly achievable once Cissoko acclimates and the game slows down for him in the coming years.

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The oft-mentioned Diaw is, again, an obvious parallel to draw when projecting Cissoko's peak utility in a halfcourt offense because of how the two capitalize on being able to see over the defense and pick out teammates with pinpoint deliveries.

But also, recall that Anthony Mason reached All-NBA and All-Defensive team status in one glorious 1996-97 season (alongside familiar names like Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O'Neal, and John Stockton), putting the totality of his tools together to wreak havoc in transition with his passing prowess while bludgeoning opponents with his physicality on defense or as a halfcourt set initiator on offense.

A player with this makeup checks all the boxes for an All-Star and perennial All-Defensive team selection. Now, to preemptively answer a couple questions that might naturally arise after reading the above.

Why blend all three players? Isn't one enough?

Because, as in the previous examples, each skillset complements the other and fills the necessary gaps to fully represent Cissoko's nascent powers. Anunoby has never demonstrated the passing diversity or creativity of Cissoko, Diaw, or Mason. Mason's outside touch is reflective of his time when players his size weren't expected to shoot beyond 18 feet or so. Diaw always possessed athleticism that belied the deliberate speed at which he played the game, but there's nothing subtle about the way Cissoko, Anunoby, or Mason attack(ed) the rim.

Why no Draymond Green comparison? Isn't he a tough, defensive-minded guy with similar measurables who also passes a ton?

While it's easy to see how one would draw that conclusion, Cissoko is more of a wing than a big in Green's. As he gains even more strength over the next few seasons, Cissoko will surely find himself guarding small ball bigs across various lineups and will posses the frame to take on that responsibility with aplomb.

His true defensive value, though, will be determined once we learn whether his foot speed and lateral quickness will allow him to shadow the premier shot creators littered throughout the league and often found terrorizing defenses in the playoffs, and will not be based on him locking down the opponent's best big every night like Green is usually tasked with.

For Cissoko to reach these heights and be discussed seriously alongside current and former greats, he must learn how to weaponize his frame consistently, make open shots at a high rate in catch-and-shoot scenarios, and continue to brandish his craftiness to manipulate space in the name of creating openings for others.

A full roster spot in tow means, much like his fellow French rookie Wembanyama, he'll have every opportunity to showcase whether he's up to the lofty task of breaking molds and resetting expectations for a young roster.