(Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
Via: Detroit Free Press
Most casual NBA fans have never heard about the French rookie. When he was drafted, most Pistons fans didn’t know what to think. They were likely expecting players like Brandon Clarke, Nassir Little, or Kevin Porter Jr. to be the player selected by Detroit, but instead they went with a player a little more unknown.
With Detroit being a small market team, and with their poor record, you can’t blame people for not knowing him, but on January 9th, 2020, that all changed when Sekou Doumbouya unleashed this insane posterized on Tristan Thompson.
To help inform the uninformed, here’s the story of Sekou Doumbouya…
Sekou was drafted out of France at the age of 18, currently the youngest player in the NBA. Detroit had their eyes on him ever since they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Head coach, Dwayne Casey, and Senior Advisor, Ed Stefanski, got their first look at the French prospect at a training camp in Dallas, where he showed massive potential and reportedly knocked down 17 three-pointers in a row. At the end of the workout Dwayne Casey told Doumbouya that he didn’t think the 6-8 wing would ever see him again because he figured Doumbouya was a lock to be a lottery pick.
Detroit had the fifteenth pick in the draft and had considered Sekou their plan B. They were looking at prospects like Rui Hachimura or Nassir Little. The Washington Wizards, drafting ninth, surprised everyone by taking Hachimura, the first Japanese player to be drafted, over Doumbouya. Doumbouya continued to fall and Detroit scooped him up. Detroit fans were ecstatic with the pick. Doumbouya has a lot of upside and fans were eager to see him unleashed.
After the draft, however, Sekou had a minor injury in his hamstring that sat him for the majority of the Summer League. He played the one playoff game where he flashed potential, but looked very raw.
Following the glimpse in the Summer League and the training camps, Dwayne Casey and the coaching staff decided to put the 15th pick in the G-League for a while to develop. That was the last that the media had heard from him for a while.
Sekou Doumbouya had an impressive stint in the G-League. In 15 games where he played about 26.7 minutes per game, Sekou averaged 16.5 points on nearly 49% from the field. He put up 5.4 threes per game and made 38.3% of those. He also averaged 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals + blocks per game. The promise he showed in the G-League, that was translating to quite the season for the Grand Rapids Drive, had many aggravated Pistons fans demanding that he should be called to see what he can do in the NBA. Dwayne Casey ignored the fans’ demands for a long time, wanting to see consistent development in Grand Rapids first.
The fan’s prayers were finally answered when Dwayne Casey called Doumbouya up from Grand Rapids and he finally played his first game. The game was December first against the San Antonio Spurs. He only played garbage time, but his first bucket, which was an and-one, had the Detroit crowd ecstatic. Detroit’s bench went crazy for the young man in support.
Detroit fans were really starting to get their hopes up again, then Casey sent him back to Grand Rapids for a bit. Fans were restless at the news, but Sekou showed real development with the G-League affiliate.
Sekou got called up shortly after, once again, but didn’t do anything special for a bit. He was sitting on the bench for several games until news of Blake Griffin’s knee problems came about. Blake sat out the game against his former team, the Los Angeles Clippers, and Morris had a foot injury as well. Casey didn’t want to play Christain Wood at the four because his perimeter defense wasn’t great. This brought about Sekou Doumbouya first career NBA start, and he was starting against arguably the best player in the world. Many fans were excited, while many thought this would destroy his confidence.
The excited fans turned out to be correct. Doumbouya actually held of Kawhi very well for a 19 year-old kid. He also put up a double-double with ten points and 11 rebounds. He had a +/- of +1 while playing 27 minutes against one of the best two-way players in history. Sekou shot 0-4 from three that game, but his potential and new-found basketball iq showed promise to the fans and the coaching staff.
His play earned him another start, this time against the Golden State Warriors where he was assigned to guard Draymond Green. He held his own against Draymond for a bit before he got ejected and after, Doumbouya showed off his three-point shooting ability. He shot 4-7 from deep and put up another double-double, being the Piston to have back-to-back double-double in his first two games since Andre Drummond. He put up 16 points, ten rebounds, two steals and a block in that game.
In his third game, Casey started Doumbouya at the three against LeBron James. The Pistons actually surprised everyone, hanging with the Lakers all game. Doumbouya had another double-digit performance against the King, and made him struggle for a lot of shots defensively. LeBron actually went 0-3 from three and only shot 10-21 from the field (which from him and few others is considered sub-par). Doumbouya eventually fouled out on that game running into a screen made by the greatest basketball player of all-time, Alex Caruso, and the 6’4 Bruce Brown couldn’t do anything to stop him.
In his first three starts he averages 12.3 points per game on 42.4% shooting. Not bad numbers for a just-turned 19-year old.
After those three promising games, he went against Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he did this to Tristain Thompson:
He ended up with 15 points that game, but let’s be real, the box score isn’t why everyone was paying attention to Sekou. His dunk blew up on Twitter and is now being looked at as the potential steal of the draft.
Sekou is providing a bright spot for the struggling Pistons. He is going to continue to start, or at least have a real role in the rotation because of Blake Griffin’s likely season-ending surgery. At only 19, Sekou is showing that there is a future for Detroit. He may well turn out to be one of the best players in the draft, and maybe even an all-star. Time will tell if Dr. Doom will earn his new nickname. He’s got a long career ahead of him.