Sidy Cissoko can be an experimental, new-age Boris Diaw for the Spurs

Sidy Cissoko
Sidy Cissoko / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
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The good & the best-possible outcome

Despite the shooting and fouling woes, you won't find many people higher on Sidy Cissoko's potential than I am, being that I had him graded as a late-lottery-level prospect in his draft class. Purely from a value perspective, selecting him at 44th overall without having to trade up and gaining more draft assets for the 33rd overall pick should be viewed as a homerun.

There are plenty of reasons to like Sidy Cissoko, some of which have already been discussed at length by my colleagues. Our site expert, Noah Magaro-George, put together an in-depth look at why Cissoko could be a mismatch nightmare down the line in the NBA and summarizes why I'm ultimately so high on his potential. Players with good positional size that can dribble, pass, and shoot tend to stick in the NBA in a meaningful way, and at only 19 years old, Cissoko already has an incredibly developed foundation to build upon in two of those three areas.

Cissoko is quietly one of the most talented passers in his class and may have even more upside in that area to spare if he's given reps as a primary ball-handler. While I highly doubt he'll get many of those reps in San Antonio in the midst of Tre Jones, Blake Wesley, Devonte Graham, and Jeremy Sochan, if he plays significant time in Austin, I would not be surprised if the team experimented with him at the point guard position. His handles are functional enough to have confidence in him putting the ball on the floor, and the combo of his size and playmaking abilities could allow him to create real advantages for his teammates with more refinement.

Even if the Cissoko point guard experiment doesn't work out, however, I have enough confidence that he can improve his jump shot to the point that he can become an off-ball connector and/or offensive hub that can defend multiple positions on the other end of the floor. While he'll need to work on his proneness to fouling, he has the requisite size, length, and feel for the game to be an effective on-ball defender against at least three, if not four positions. Off-ball, he's proven himself to be one of the best help-defending and shot-blocking wing players in his class as well.

Noah made a callback to Boris Diaw in his analysis of Cissoko, and while I generally avoid player comparisons, I think Diaw is a very realistic archetype for him on offense. But I think Cissoko could bring a new-age flare to that comparison right off the bat with his strong, hyper-athletic frame and general defensive aptitude. He has a ways to go as a decision-maker on both ends of the floor, but that isn't an uncommon flaw for a 19-year-old.

But if Cissoko can put all the pieces of the puzzle together and reach his top-end outcome, he could project as an off-ball, two-way wing with guard skills, above-average athleticism, and good-enough spot-up shooting to remain effective in the half-court away from the ball. That is a recipe for a player that is worth far, far more than a second-round pick, and being that he'll have the opportunity to grow next to a generational talent and fellow Frenchman in Victor Wembanyama for years to come, the Spurs may have placed him in an incredibly advantageous position to succeed.


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