Against the Clippers Thursday night, Detroit Pistons 2019 first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya made his first NBA start of his short career. He had played very sparingly in his previous seven NBA appearances, but against the Clippers, he played 27 minutes. The Pistons lost pretty handily, though in the grand scheme of things, they actually won
the attention and hearts of hardcore and casual Pistons fans alike because the Doumbouya era has finally begun (we hope). What more excitement could you ask for in a season that’s already been a failure and a disaster for the team?
So, about Doumbouya’s performance:
Doumbouya notched a double-double and certainly looked far from out of place on both ends. Keep reading if you want a glimpse into the good.
No real bad stuff. A few silly fouls — young player miscues. Doumbouya just turned 19 less than two weeks ago and just played well against an excellent team in the Clippers, so, really, it’s not difficult to see why the Pistons were intrigued by the kid and chose to draft him.
The fact that Doumbouya attempted six field goals in the first half (14 minutes of playing time) is a positive sign. He didn’t hesitate to create his own opportunities or to let it fly from deep.
Sekou didn’t hit any three-pointers (0-of-4) against the Clippers, but he’s not a dreadful shooter. Far from it, in fact. In 15 G-League games, he’s shooting 38.3% (31-of-81). From watching G-League film and from this Clippers game, Sekou’s shooting form looks smooth. Sekou, along with his coaches, will have to be careful about consistency with his form. The accuracy will come with time.
First, Sekou’s drive against Kawhi Leonard was encouraging, and from my view, it shows that Sekou has no shortage of confidence. Although the shot clock was nearing zero, Sekou had an awareness that he didn’t need to force a shot (and I’m not sure Leonard was going to allow him to), and was able to find Drummond for a potential look.
Second, Doumbouya wasn’t shy to unleash from three-point range. That’s just fine. He’ll have to take and make that shot. Over time, he may need to quicken his shot just a tad — it’s probably not top on the priority list right now, however.
Strong, patient move here as he also shows off his touch. Something tells me we are going to see a lot of this for years to come.
My favorite play of the game from Sekou: solid awareness to cut to the basket, and then a patient gather and quick conversion.
Here Sekou locates his man (JaMychal Green) on the glass and gets just enough body on him, which helps in being in decent position to corral the rebound. For being 19, Sekou sure isn’t a rag doll either - Green wasn’t able to fully move him to the side while trying to shift around him.
It’s rather comical, if you think about it: Sekou is just a 19-year-old, going against perhaps the best player in the NBA in 28-year-old Leonard, and he mostly held his own. But even if Sekou didn’t hold his own, could you really blame him anyway? This clip, Sekou moves his feet and does all he can. Often times, stellar offense will beat good defense and there’s not a single thing that can be done.
Christian Wood and Doumbouya both do a decent job here containing Leonard and not allowing him to dictate where he wants to go. Doumbouya does a great job moving his feet and causing Kawhi to change direction. Plus, he doesn’t try to do too much at the end like go for the swat. Kawhi wants a foul called, but the ref correctly thinks otherwise.
In all, Doumbouya looked more than OK in his first big minute performance of his NBA career. Hopefully his performance will earn him more playing time in the immediate future, and he’ll be able to develop more of a rhythm and feel against the NBA big boys. Onward, young fella!