• Matt Esposito

Sekou Doumbouya Could Be the 2019 Draft’s Biggest Riser

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Allow me to rephrase that: Sekou Doumbouya should be the 2019 draft’s biggest riser. If you are anything like me, you probably seen Doumbouya’s name floating around the NBA Twittersphere for the past year. You also have probably struggled to find any real type of game film on him. Look no further.

With the help of a friendly internet sleuth, I looked through hours and hours of Doumbouya’s game film from his Limoges team in the French League A. Some footage came from YouTube while other came via streaming services but, the YouTube footage is easier to relay in article form. Therefore, prepare yourself to learn all about the 6-foot-9 forward from France.

Although he is still only 18-years-old, Doumbouya has both the functional and explosive athleticism to take advantage of his 6-foot-11 wingspan. The lanky forward is often the fastest man on the court, and it shows when he complete grab and go chances with thunderous dunks. Below, Doumbouya grabs a board, flies up the court, does a nifty inside-out dribble and jams it home. My love for grab and go buckets is well known, making Sekou a prospect to fall in love with.

Doumbouya does not need an open court to get his engine running, however. He is just as explosive in the half court. He utilizes shot fakes to open up driving lanes and then displays crafty footwork to finish the play. When he needs to he can blow by defenders on the dribble-handoff (DHO) and slam it home in a way which reminds how important dunking is as a finishing skill.

His athletic prowess translates directly to the league. Sekou will be deployed on backdoor cuts, lobs, transition opportunities and DHOs to take advantage of his physical gifts. Defensively, once he learns NBA schemes, Sekou should be able to switch just about any pick and roll. Yet, there is another way Doumbouya’s leaping ability benefits him on the defensive end.

In this clip, he chases down his opponent from behind, catching him with quick yet long strides. Doumbouya does not have elite standing reach or length but he can be a shot-erasing wing in the mold of Maurice Harkless. Simply put, your shot is not safe even if you have Doumbouya beat.

There are plenty of highflying athletes in the NBA, so what makes Doumbouya worth being taken in the lottery? At first glance, Sekou did not flash impressive shooting numbers in his 2018-19 season. He took just over two triples per game and made 31.7 percent of them. Yet, Sekou shoots an easy ball and has no real glitches in his mechanics.

One of the youngest players in this draft class, Sekou spent this past year playing against both former NBA players and NCAA All-Americans. His league is physical and tough and Sekou played short stints that could have made it difficult to find rhythm. Regardless, Sekou demonstrated he can nail 3-pointers from spot-up attempts, catch and shoot opportunities (both seen below) and off-the-dribble looks. I project him to be an average 3-point shooter and that is perfectly fine.

Perhaps what is most striking about Doumbouya, however, is his passing vision. At Limoges, Sekou was not utilized often as a creator. Yet, there are glimpses of his ability to see over defenders and hit teammates with difficult passes.

Doumbouya has shown he can hit one-handed, cross court passes to shooters in the corner. This is NBA level talent and with any luck, Sekou’s next coach will take advantage of it. The wing also uses his non-dominant hand as well; a skilled more commonly seen in point guards. Despite being the best athlete on the floor, Doumbouya relies on his vision when appropriate instead of overlying on his athleticism. Scouts should drool over this because it’s indicative of a player who has an organic feel for the game.

Like any player, Sekou has areas in which he must improve. For a guy who loves playing above the rim, Doumbouya often struggles to finish there. He avoids his left hand the way high school boys avoid ex-girlfriends. This leads to him forcing shots with his right hand despite it raising the chances of a miss or block. In fact, this left-handed scoop layup attempt essentially shouts that Doumbouya does not have the dexterity to use his left around the rim.

On the defensive side of the ball Doumbouya leaves a lot to be desired. Theoretically, he can blossom into a great defender. Perhaps it is because of his youth but, Sekou gets confused on his pick and roll assignments. He is late on hedges or does not always commit on switches. This will not fly at the next level.

He also has the kind of lapses that give you a headache. Here, he meets the ballhandler with flatfeet and there is no sign of proper defensive body positioning. His closeout technique must improve, too. Doumbouya is reminiscent of a puppy with boundless energy who wipes out while chasing a tennis ball. In this clip he puts on the brakes during a closeout and surely knows that he is beat. The fundamentals must improve.

At such a young age, these weaknesses are both understandable and fixable. Personally, after watching the film, Sekou has made a massive leap on my big board. Allow me to give you one final pitch.

Doumbouya’s physical gifts are almost what every general manager would want in a modern NBA forward. He is bouncy, long and fluid with a frame for adding muscle. At his worst Doumbouya will be a rotational wing who defends well, can play small-ball with starters and get streaky from deep.

But I am more focused on what he could be if he reaches his peak. Sekou has both a nice shooting and defensive base. Still, his playmaking skill set is largely untapped. There are limitless ways he should be used in the NBA. Sekou can be ran off of stagger screens to hit treys, come flying off of DHOs, cut for backdoor lobs or simply provide spacing in the corner. If he ever becomes a secondary pick and roll passer, however, Sekou could truly develop into an All-Star caliber player.

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