Underrated Draft Prospects: G League Ignite Guard Sidy Cissoko – Sports Illustrated

Background

NBA scouts will be keeping a close eye on the G Little league Ignite during the 2022-23 season, as the team will be once again stacked with talent.

Some of the names on Ignite’s roster might already be familiar to those following the NBA draft, such as projected top-two pick Scoot Henderson, top-30 high school recruit Leonard Miller and former Washington State big man Efe Abogidi. On the opposite end, Sidy Cissoko might not have the same level of name recognition of these prospects, despite being on international scouts’ radars for the past three years.

An 18 year old, 6-foot-6 wing from France, Cissoko spent the bulk of his formative years as one of the stand out potential customers of Baskonia’s junior squads in Spain. Last season he was loaned out to second division side Irarugi SB, where he was productive as the youngest player on the roster, posting 10. 8 points, 2 . 9 rebounds and 2 . 4 assists in 23 minutes per game.

Scouting Report

The first thing that stands out about Cissoko are his physical tools. He is listed at 6-foot-6 but looks plus plays bigger than his size thanks to his developed frame, strong lower body and impressive length. Cissoko combines these tools with his coordination, lateral mobility plus open-court speed to cover multiple positions upon defense, as he’s able to cause problems for guards in the perimeter with his dimension and mobility, while also being strong enough to forwards and bigger wings.

Offensively, the jumbo guard offers that very same versatility. As the clear best player for Baskonia through his youth basketball career, Cissoko has been comfortable with the ball in his hands, using his size and strength to overpower opponents on drives and finish along with power at the rim, while also showing flashes of shooting off the dribble plus passing on the move.

Cissoko, however , played mostly off-the-ball with regard to France at the most recent FIBA U18 European Championships, a role that might be more in line with the one he will be expected to fill for a stacked Ignite roster next season. In this off-ball role, he showed the capability to hit jumpers off-the-catch, to move the ball with efficiency and to overwhelm defenders as a driver both in transition and in the half-court.

While their U18 performance showed his ability to play off the golf ball, it also put on display some areas regarding improvement in the game.

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Cissoko relies more on his combination of physicality and coordination than in sheer quickness or explosiveness to get to the particular rim, which has worked intended for him when facing smaller defenders in lower levels of competition, but it is going to be hard to get him to outmuscle NBA or even G League defenders; if he’s not able to create separation with quickness or with creative handles against a set defense, he will be limited like a scorer off drives in the NBA level.

Taking that will into account, it’s likely that his jumper will be their main source of self-created offense at the NBA level. The mechanics plus flashes associated with shooting from the dribble bode well pertaining to his shooting translation to the NBA, but the stat sheet doesn’t always reflect that will. Outside of his 2020-21 time of year at Baskonia’s junior group, his 3-point percentages have been consistently below 30% at every competition and his free throw shooting has always been around the 60% mark, both numbers that could be causes meant for concern and should be monitored closely since the next Gary the gadget guy League period goes by.

NBA Questions and Projections

The question I expect many NBA teams in order to ask about Cissoko is how he can add value to a winning team beyond the defensive end of the floor.

Considering exactly how loaded with talent the H League Ignite squad will be next season, it is likely that Cissoko won’t see many reps as an on-ball creator. If that’s the case, then the effectiveness will be the swing aspect designed for Cissoko’s NBA draft stock.

If he can be efficient as a shooter off the catch while mixing in cuts and opportunistic drives towards the basket — such as attacking closeouts plus defenders out of position, he is able to add value to an NBA team through day one being a two-way “glue guy”; someone who can defend multiple positions in the edge and provide effective (albeit limited) scoring without needing the basketball in his hands.

As a long-term bet, Cissoko can be even more valuable if the flashes of shooting off-the-dribble come around and he shows the potential to convert them at a high volume and at least average efficiency. Adding a self-creation level in order to his currently valuable mixture of off-ball criminal offense and versatile defense would certainly entice a number of teams in the first round of next year’s draft.


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