Victor Wimpanyama has dominated local, national, and world headlines since the San Antonio Spurs secured him the first overall pick of the 2023 NBA draft. With experts calling the 7-foot-3 teen the greatest prospect in basketball history, it only makes sense that the club would rolling the red carpet to take his rightful place as the newest face of his historic franchise.
It’s no surprise that every player in the league has been living under the towering center’s massive shadow lately, and San Antonio’s second-round pick is no exception. Tottenham did their best to welcome Sidi Sissoko, but he remains relatively neglected. While he’s far from the most popular Frenchman in town, fans should be thrilled about his dramatic rise.
Versatility is the name of the game if you want to win a championship in the association, and General Manager Brian Wright has been an open book when it came to his desire to create a roster full of chops that coach Gregg Popovich can deliver in a slew of innings. Standing 6-foot-8 with real ball skills, Sissoko has the archetypal proportions the front office is looking for, making it a worthwhile long-term investment during the next phase of the rebuild.
Sissoko is at his most dangerous when he has his head full in transition. Having spent so much time with the ball in his hands on the outside before signing with G League Ignite, the 19-year-old striker is comfortable grabbing rebounds, weaving in traffic on the open ground, and going from coast to coast. If no one picks it up, it’s an unquestionable match. If a defender steps in his path, he can lower his shoulder, initiate contact, reach the line, or finish with both hands.
His 224-pound frame and functional tackle make him a no-match nightmare with indeterminate defensemen, but it’s his passing tackles that set him apart from his posturing peers. Sidy is a rebounding and running threat who pushes the pace, polls the court, and offers a dime in a dead race. Whether it’s a bouncing pass between corpses, a twist in the air, or a bounce to an edge runner, Sissoko has the awareness to make the right reading the moment his second man commits to over-assist on the break.
The Saint-Maurice native is also an outstanding connective tissue playmaker, whose speed of tackle shines as he maintains the advantages his teammates create. Moving the boulder quickly is valuable at the highest level of competition, especially since the window can disappear in the blink of an eye. While Sissoko can be very ambitious, he can also hit small targets. Put him at the elbows or on top of a corkscrew and watch him find open cutters and shooters in the flow of crime.
When you watch Cissoko ease from so many areas on the hardwood, it’s hard not to see visions of a younger Boris Diaw. He can swoosh off the post, drive and kick second-side movements, execute a terrific shovel pass to the sinking spot, and make space as a screener on dribbling deliveries with his well-defined physique. There is perhaps nothing more dazzling than the boundless creativity he displays when he manipulates defenders with his eyes and unleashes blind assists.
Oversized playmakers can create a migraine for opposing coaches, and one of Sissoko’s biggest rewards is his reliability as the starter of the catch game. His past as a point guard made him well equipped to dribble in a crowd, allowing him to keep his head up so he could use his considerable height advantage to see through the defense. Sir is an excellent jeep-passer for his age, and a few bounces of him to the oblique angle are enough to make you pass out on his roof.
Being taller and stronger than the average ball player means Sissoko has the advantage over a handful of teams defenders will throw at him. Although he explodes greatly from the rebound, he can bully his way to the basket and freeze opponents with effective wavering movements. Developing a serviceable draft jacket and extending his range should be on Sir’s to-do list, and if the Spurs can finish their game, he could nail their illustrious streak of draft night steals.