I don’t know about all you basketball-loving heathens out there, but these last 13 or so
years days of no live basketball has made me realize more than ever how much I took watching the sport and interacting with the sport for granted. Like, holy moly. I straight up took it all for granted. I know I’m not the only one in this boat, so let’s help each other out. Misery loves company, right? Right.
So — I hope all of you and your families are holding up well. Be smart and may health be with you. Eventually, some way and somehow, there will be professional basketball to watch and to enjoy and to digest and to complain about again. Eventually life will become normal again.
In the meantime, what better way to ease the pain of this indefinite basketball quietness by critiquing some of our dear Detroit Pistons?
Let’s look at Sekou Doumbouya first.
Remember Sekou? Remember between early- and mid-January, the 19-year-old rookie was scoring in double figures effortlessly, laying muscle on people, and playing with a high level of confidence? Those were good times. Those were simple times.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Sekou since. I’ll bypass his less than beautiful numbers for now. It’s not the end of the world, though, because it’s not really about numbers for Sekou right now. He shows glimpses of growth among his deer in headlights moments (and being seemingly forgotten / ignored by his teammates at times). He’s, again, only 19-years-old.
Against the 76ers, Sekou had the stage all to himself against Tobias Harris. With four capable shooters on the perimeter, the 76ers felt fine with taking their chances with Harris home alone on Doumbouya. Sekou shows his patience and fluidity, and uses his length and sneaky young strength to his advantage. So often he does not.
In garbage time, Sekou takes it to the rack instead of settling for a jump shot. Awesome. But once he got there the awesomeness ended. Force the defender make a play on you. Make the referee blow his whistle. Doumbouya is falling away at the rim on the attempt. Smaller players need to do that sometimes to even get the shot up, but for Sekou, he didn’t need to that there — go into the defender or go straight up. I like the initial aggressiveness and the move, but not the finesse of the shot attempt.
This take against Joel Embiid isn’t optimal, but I don’t hate it either. It’s late in the shot clock and you have a center checking you, so it’s a positive idea to try and make the center guard in space. It’s my guess that Sekou knew he was going to go up with a shot before he spun to the paint. He didn’t necessarily need to do that. I think he had the right idea but bailed the defender (and defense) out by not keeping more options open. Again, though, Doumbouya still got a somewhat decent (at least not horribly difficult) shot up under duress from the shot clock.
Here against the Jazz — less than a week before the 76ers game — you have to like the awareness in taking advantage of a point guard checking you:
It’s a play like this one that likely shows Doumbouya’s high ceiling for craftiness and awareness. Yes, I realize that Georges Niang played defense with the agility of an A-frame on this play, but the rookie took advantage and made him pay. You got to make people pay! That’s a lot of what good, smart basketball is all about: capitalize on opponents’ miscues and weaknesses.
Don’t make the game more difficult than it needs to be. This shot can be had at any time — but....preferably never!
Who to look at next?