• Matt Esposito

NBA Comparisons for Sekou Doumbouya

Recently, I wrote about Sekou Doumbouya’s potential to become one of the NBA Draft’s biggest risers. His strengths are evident. Doumbouya is a fluid athlete and his 6-foot-9 height only accentuates his athletic prowess. With solid leaping ability, he is always one of the best athletes on the floor. Regarding his skill set, the French forward shows flashes of a smooth 3-point shot and the promise of becoming a secondary playmaker.

His weaknesses are evident as well. Doumbouya leaves a lot to be desired when attempting to create his own shot. His handle and finishing package is rudimentary. Plus, Doumbouya cannot sink triples consistently, despite decent mechanics. For someone of his size, he struggles at the rim and has little touch with his left hand. Defensively, Sekou has the theoretical tools to switch 1-4 but, he needs to learn both NBA schemes and discipline.

Bouncy, quick and with a frame that suggests he can put on some serious muscle, Doumbouya fits the mold of a modern combo forward. At only 18-years-old, he has time to become more consistent with his jumper and develop as a playmaker. Yet, he has skills that he must improve if he wants to become a starting caliber player. So, who does this potential lottery pick remind me of?

Floor Comparison – Moe Harkless

At the time of the 2012 NBA Draft, Moe Harkless had a scouting report similar to Doumbouya’s. Standing at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot wingspan, Harkless and Doumbouya share almost equal measurables. Athletically, these two are also comparable given their agility and leaping ability.

They also share the same question marks. Harkless has waivered between good and bad shooting seasons from distance, which may be why he has never taken more than 2.5 3-pointers per contest in a single season. While Doumbouya has no glaring issues with his mechanics, scouts question why he has only hit 28.9 percent of his 2.2 triples per game for Limoges.

The Harkless comparison seems accurate when considering his defensive talents. Specifically, I focused on Harkless’ shot-blocking from the wing position. This year, he finished third among all small forwards in blocks, erasing 0.90 shots per game. Harkless relies on his instinct and athleticism to do so; traits also seen in Doumbouya. For his Limoges club, Doumbouya averaged 0.5 blocks per game despite getting only 17 minutes a night. His per-36 minutes numbers suggest Doumbouya can be a recovery rim protector on the next level.

If Sekou’s shot never pans out this Harkless comparison may ring true. They both possess natural physical abilities that general managers covet. Doumbouya is an energetic player who gives effort on the defensive end, guaranteeing him a place in this league. If he mimics Harkless’ shooting consistency, however, he will always be a tantalizing yet frustrating player.

Ceiling Comparison – Modern Luol Deng

I had to dig deep for this comparison, but I think it will bare fruit. An All-Defensive team member and two-time All-Star, Luol Deng meshes well with what Doumbouya could potentially become.

They have similar physical attributes, with Deng possessing a wingspan that is a mere inch longer than Doumbouya’s. On the court, both men are smooth athletes who use their balance and coordination to score. Defensively, Deng could block shots on both recovery defense and transition while also switching onto multiple positions. Doumbouya has the tools to do the same.

I also am comfortable with their offensive comparison. Deng was not always a high volume 3-point shooter, but he became one during his prime. Specifically, in a stretch ranging from 2011 to 2016 (ages 25-30) Deng averaged 3.4 3-point attempts per game and hit 34 percent of them. Both Tankathon.com and I suggest that he will hit a similar percentage.

To make this comparison ring true I had to find a player with similar playmaking skills as Doumbouya. Although his French League team used him primarily in an off-ball role, Doumbouya has flashed adept vision during international and exhibition play. With Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah as teammates, Deng did not handle the pick and roll often. Yet, he flowed well within the offense and found players on cuts, kickouts or during transition. Depending on how Sekou develops he could look like a more modern version of Deng.

Most Likely Comparison -

I struggled to find a likely comparison for Doumbouya. Guys like Trevor Ariza and Matt Barnes came to mind but one of them is longer than Doumbouya, the other is shorter and they both lack the upside that he has. Still, this is a nice place to start.

I will toss out one more comparison. Sekou may end up being like Jaylen Brown if Brown traded some of his explosiveness for a couple inches of height. Like Brown, Doumbouya may struggle to develop his handle and find consistency from deep early in his career. Yet, the two of them are terrors in transition, have been deployed on everything from dribble-handoffs to stagger screens, and possess some secondary playmaking promise. On the other end of the court they can both be plus defenders with the ability to switch many pick and roll scenarios.

If Doumbouya gets drafted to a team that allows him to take advantage of his passing talent, he could unlock a higher ceiling that most believe him to have. Conversely, his potential could be cut short if he toggles between average and below average percentages from beyond the arc. Or, maybe he lands somewhere in the middle and perpetually leaves fans wanting more. Time will tell but Sekou is worth the risk.

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