The bad & the ugly
Sidy Cissoko has been on Air Alamo's radar for some time now, dating all the way back to his time playing for Iraurgi in the Spanish LEB Oro, but he solidified himself as a worthy Spurs draft target at the 2022 Nike Hoop Summit. While Cissoko only put up 3 points in that game, he did just about everything else to affect the game in a meaningful way, also having racked up 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals (along with some flashy highlight plays below) in his 23 minutes on the court.
After a bit more detective work, it became clear that Cissoko would be a more-than-draftable player heading into the 2023 NBA Draft cycle. For that reason, he was featured over some big names on our preseason Spurs big board from this past October. Being that he would be playing for the G League Ignite next to Scoot Henderson, however, the big question for him was always what he would be able to do away from the ball on offense. We noted that if he shot the ball well, he had a chance to be selected much higher than many thought he would be at the time.
While Cissoko certainly didn't shoot the lights out of the Dollar Loan Center, having only hit 30% of his three-point shots and 65% of his free throws, I think these numbers portray his jump shot quite a bit worse than it actually is. Despite flashes of good shooting range in Spain, the form on his shot was quite segmented with a slightly lower-than-optimal release point, as highlighted in a close-up look from the Nike Hoop Summit.
These issues are a product of nitpicking, though, and they smoothed out quite a bit over the course of Cissoko's G League Ignite tenure. And as those upper-body mechanics improved, the numbers did as well. He knocked down roughly 33% of his catch-and-shoot threes overall and hit 36% of those shots over a two-month span from mid-January to mid-March. Had he not gone through a big shooting slump to end the Ignite's season--perhaps at least partially due to Scoot Henderson cutting his season short--his overall numbers may have looked even better.
Cissoko's jump shot will be important in his development, which is why we're taking the time to dive so deeply into it here, but the main point that should be taken away is that there is reason for optimism long term. His jump shot is far from being broken, and with some adjustments to his lower body mechanics, he could improve rapidly if given enough in-game reps. So, while we'd put Cissoko's jump shot in the bad/needs improvement category for now, I'm comfortable with projecting a league-average jumper at the very least.
While the "good" generally comes before the "bad and ugly" if we're going by the classic Sergio Leone film, if you've read my content before, you'll know that I like to touch on the bad and the ugly first when it comes to scouting reports. And with that, we'll brifly touch on where I think could cause Cissoko the most issues early on in the league.
While less-than-optimal shooting isn't necessarily the end of the world for a wing prospect like Cissoko, especially considering the ancillary skills he brings to the table, an inability to stay on the floor could really hurt early on and prevent a Sochan-esque 'trial by fire' approach from being as effective in Cissoko's development. The Box and One's Adam Spinella sums up Cissoko's foul proneness quite well with examples, but I'll give a tl;dr below.
Cissoko is an incredibly smart basketball player, but his physical, hyper-aggressive brand of defense tended to earn him many preventable fouls, particularly when attacking the ball-handler. The Spurs will be focused on winning games as they always are, and having a player on the floor that will rack up team fouls quickly have to be subbed out likely won't align with that goal early on. As a result, don't be surprised if Cissoko is sent to Austin early and often to play through those issues before seeing regular playing time in San Antonio.