While obviously the overwhelmingly huge news of the day for the San Antonio Spurs is the fact that they drafted Victor Wembanyama with the first overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft, the Spurs had other business to take care of tonight. San Antonio had two picks in the second round: 33rd and 44th overall.
Minutes before the second round was about to begin, the Spurs traded the 33rd pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a pair of future second round selections. At the time, I wasn’t too thrilled with the move because there were a number of interesting prospects still available. Plus, two second rounders for the 33rd overall selection sounded like an underwhelming return.
However, after the Spurs were able to draft Sidy Cissoko at 44, San Antonio’s decision to trade No. 33 made a lot more sense. In retrospect, it’s clear that the Spurs calculated that there were still enough draftable prospects still on the board to go ahead and trade 33 and wait for 44.
While the talent started to dry up, the risk ended up working out in San Antonio’s favor. Cissoko is a quality prospect. In fact, I had the Frenchman ranked 33rd on the Spurs Big Board and listed him as one of the exciting projects that could be available in the second round.
Three weeks ago, I had Cissoko 20th on the Big Board. He slipped a bit in the final Big Board after I heard from scouts that the G League Ignite prospects weren’t playing especially well in workouts. But at 44, drafting Cissoko was clearly very good value.
Cissoko, who was born about 15 miles away from where Wembanyama was born near Paris, is a 6-foot-6 wing with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and an 8-foot-8 standing reach. In 28 regular season games with the Ignite, Cissoko averaged 12.8 points, 3.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.
The thing that stands out with Cissoko is his big, strong, physical frame. When he gets going out in transition, he’s nearly impossible to stop. He seeks out contact and finishes with power. Cissoko, who grew up playing point guard, is also a good passer for a teenage wing. Not only did he average 3.5 assists, his assist-to-turnover ratio was really good.
Cissoko tries really hard on defense. He’s not the most technically sound defender right now, though. He fouls way too much and can often be caught out of position. However, he has the build to be a stout defender and the effort level is already there — it could just be a matter of learning the fundamentals on that end.
A make-or-break factor for Cissoko will be his shooting. He only hit around 30% of his three-pointers in the G League at a relatively low volume. To make it in the league, he’ll need to become a reliable three-point shooter.
All in all, Cissoko is a really solid prospect for a second round pick. There’s nothing exceptionally exciting about him but he has an NBA frame with NBA strength and doesn’t have any glaring flaws. If he keeps working on the basics, the Spurs could have something intriguing in a year or two.
I’d expect Cissoko to spend a lot of time in the G League next season. Since he already played in the G League last year, he should do really well with the Austin Spurs.
At the end of the night, San Antonio’s front office is overjoyed with officially landing Wembanyama — but they should also be happy with what happened in the second round. Their strategy was risky but it paid off.
When it was their turn to pick at 44, Cissoko was one of only two players left that I had listed in the top 33 on the Spurs Big Board. The other was Seth Lundy, who ended up going 46th.
For trading away 33, the Spurs ended up getting a 2026 second round pick from the Utah Jazz and a 2028 second round pick from the Timberwolves. Two second round picks for 33 isn’t much of a haul but both Minnesota and Utah could be rebuilding in those years so it’s not that bad.
Tonight is a great night to be a Spurs fan. Victor Wembanyama is a damn Spur. Oh, and the Spurs also got their hands on an interesting prospect in the second round who was born three months later and 15 miles away.