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NBA Mock Draft: Pistons get steal in Sekou Doumbouya

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Draft’s youngest prospect might also have the highest upside outside of the top 3.

NBA: NBA Draft Combine
This is NOT Sekou Doumbuya
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, the manager of the SB Nation team sites conduct a mock draft, and this might be the first year where I feel like the Pistons got an honest to goodness steal. With the No. 15 overall selection, I chose Sekou Doumbouya, forward, out of France for the Detroit Pistons.

Here is what I wrote about the selection (mind the typos):

At this point in the draft, it was time to swing for the fences. The Pistons war room was stuck on two prospects -- Kevin Porter Jr or Sekou Doumbouya. So why the raw Sekou instead of the highly touted Porter, with all his scoring and playmaking potential? There a few things that were irresistibly intriguing about Doumbouya. First, he is the youngest play in the draft and feels like he has a vast a mount of untapped potential. Not just developing his skills but physically -- his height, his strength, his quickness could all get a boost in the next year.

He’s also the kind of versatile defensive presence that the Pistons are desperate for and fit perfectly in the modern NBA. a 6-foot-9 forward with the ability to switch, close out, run the floor and block shots. He could reasonably guard four positions when it’s all said and done. That’s exciting for a team that trotted out a series of 6-foot-6 guards and called them small forwards for much of the past year. He also is adept at stealing the ball at the upper levels of France’s professional league, which portends good things, and while his offensive and jump shot is a work in progress, many tout his solid mechanics and quality rotation on his ball. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, his work ethic seems to be unmatched in this draft class. And wanting to be great counts for a hell of a lot

So basically, the next Pascal Siakim. What’s not to like?

As indicated, I was interested in mining some upside based on who was still on the board, and the names DBB writers were throwing around were the surprisingly available Doumbouya, Kevin Porter Jr. and the somewhat safer realm of PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson and Cameron Johnson. So what about Porter?

He has serious talent in an area the Pistons are most deficient — playmaking and creating. Porter has his detractors and he struggled mightily in his one year at USC, but from a talent evaluation standpoint it makes sense that he was so highly touted.

As our own Laz Jackson wrote about Porter:

When I had Cole Zwicker on the DBB Podcast (Subscribe! Download! Rate!), the first guy I asked about was Kevin Porter Jr. That wasn’t an accident - it’s supremely easy to see where he fits in for Detroit as an athletic wing who can create and convert shots without much input from his teammates. Porter Jr. creates separation for his step-back effortlessly:

But the piece also doesn’t shy away from his many shortcomings. Read in full to get a really nice understanding of Porter as a prospect. Laz is measured in his analysis, but I am just straight up out on Porter (admittedly, it’s a lot easier to be out on someone when you see a red flag and don’t bother to watch any college basketball). As I said on Twitter:

Now let’s get back to Doumbouya. It’s easy for me to spout off, but let’s check to see what informed people are actually writing about him.

Mike Schmitz of Draft Express and ESPN (ESPN+) writes that Sekou projects out as a two-way combo forward with physical comps to Paul George, Moe Harkless and Khris Middleton. His strengths and improvement areas are listed as:

Strengths

Excellent physical profile for a modern combo forward at 6-foot-9 with an 8-11 standing reach, giving him the tools to easily play either forward spot. After donning extra weight in the past, he’s done a great job of getting in the best shape of his life, looking much more capable of playing on the wing. Fluid athlete who loves to run the lanes in transition. Big reach and leaping ability allow him to hammer home dunks in space.

Versatile defender who can check positions 1-4 when fully engaged. Flies around for blocks (1.1 per 40) and steals (1.7) when he’s revved up. Can cover ground impressively on closeouts. Tools allow him to have an impact on the glass.

More untapped skill than most defensive-minded forwards in the NBA. Soft touch from 3 when disciplined with his mechanics. Gets great rotation. Shooting a career-best 31.9 percent from 3 on 5.4 attempts per 40. Can push in transition on occasion. Doesn’t turn 19 until Dec. 23.

Improvement areas

Doesn’t have the most natural feel for the game. High, loose handle without much vision off the dribble (more turnovers than assists every season). Shot selection leaves much to be desired.

Erratic shooter who often lofts the ball up on the rim with incredible arc, not staying in his shot with a follow-through. Career 28.4 percent shooter from 3 on over 280 attempts. Doesn’t have great shot preparation. Flat-footed, lazy stroke at times. Needs to become more consistent to add value in the half-court offense.

Inconsistent with his energy levels. Imposes his physical gifts on the game some nights, yet looks lethargic and uninterested others. Level of focus wavers. Lacks fundamentals and discipline on the defensive end. Needs to clean up his technique to fully tap into his defensive potential.

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express and ESPN has Doumbouya going ninth overall to the Washington Wizards in his latest mock draft updated earlier Monday.