Before the 2019 NBA Draft arrives, Peachtree Hoops will break down more than 70 available prospects with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks may look to do in late June.
This installment examines French forward Sekou Doumbouya.
There are quite a number of international prospects for teams to examine ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft, but none appear to outrank 18-year-old French forward Sekou Doumbouya.
Among many mock drafts and big boards from major outlets, Doumbouya is projected to be a lottery selection, and for some a top-10 selection ahead of this year’s draft after a successful season in France with Limoges despite missing roughly six weeks with a hand injury suffered in December.
In 39 games played this year, Doumbouya averaged 7 points per game on 48% shooting from the field on just under six attempts per game, 31% from three on 2.3 attempts per game, 75% from the line on one attempt per game, three rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals in 18 minutes per game, per RealGM.
You look at those and you’re asking ‘How can this guy be projected so highly when his stats are that underwhelming?’
It’s a fair question.
The thing you have to remember when it comes to Doumbouya as a prospect, and this is very important, is his age — he’s turns 19 on December 23rd, which not only makes him the youngest prospect heading into this year’s draft but also, according to ESPN, would make Doumbouya the youngest player to play in the NBA since the NBA’s draft age limit was introduced in 2005, breaking Giannis Antetokounmpo’s record in 2013.
Whereas someone like Goga Bitadze is going to be drafted not only based on what he can do right now and his potential as a two-way player down the road, Doumbouya relies a little more on his potential upside when it comes to his draft stock than his play on the court right now.
That’s the primary appeal for Doumbouya as a prospect — his upside and the fact he doesn’t turn 19 until December this year. So, with that in mind, that’s the lens we’re going to try look at this today, because if you’re going to judge Doumbouya as a prospect based on his play on the court right now you’re going to leave disappointed.
Physically, Doumbouya is in a good place standing at 6'9, equipped with a reported 6'11 wingspan and weighing 230 pounds - there are worse places to be physically at 18 years old. In fact, it's hard to say if Doumbouya could be in a better place at his age. So, off the bat there is a lot to like.
It doesn’t take long to see Doumbouya is athletic and easy on his feet.
Here, he displays his quickness in transition with the ball before drawing the foul:
After a turnover, Limoges push the other way and Doumbouya receives the pass for the opportunity to showcase his athleticism, finishing with the dunk:
Again, he gets an opportunity to show his ups, finishing the alley-oop:
Off of a miss, Doumbouya streaks away, receives the ball and flushes:
And if you want something a little more authoritative, here’s a drive and dunk with his left hand:
Doumbouya is a good athlete, which is part of the appeal when it comes to his draft stock but there’s more to his game than just athleticism.
While he can shoot the three-pointer, it’s not a shot that has a ton of consistency right now — shooting 31% from behind the arc. We’ll take a look at a few anyways.
Here, Doumbouya shoots from the wing over the defender to hit the three:
Again in the corner, Doumbouya hits a smooth looking three:
Off the dribble this time, Doumbouya hits the three from the top:
Again off the dribble, Doumbouya sizes up his opponent before draining the contested three:
This all looks promising but you do need reminders that Doumbouya is a 31% three-point shooter, so here’s an air ball:
To sum up, don’t get too excited for Doumbouya as a three-point shooter right now. He can hit a few but mostly from the wing in catch-and-shoot situations rather than off the dribble.
Doumbouya is able to do some damage in transition, taking the ball coast-to-coast, scoring the bucket and drawing the foul:
(Even this wasn’t exactly smooth but it got the job done)
Here, Doumbouya gathers the loose ball, pushes in transition and again scores the bucket plus the foul:
Generally speaking, I was pretty underwhelmed with the rest of Doumbouya’s offensive game. He enjoyed a game late on in the season where he scored 34 points but that’s not reflective of his season. Even at 18 years old, I found his offensive a little underwhelming.
His ability to finish at the rim left something to be desired.
Here in transition, he receives the ball and his left-handed layup misses:
On the drive from the wing, Doumbouya gets inside but finds himself in traffic and puts up a bit of a tough shot in the end which misses:
Going coast-to-coast, Doumbouya gets all the way to the rim but misses an easy layup:
He did such a great job to get into that position but it’s the easy part where it gets away from him.
And again on this possession, Doumbouya comes up with the steal, heads the other way and misses such an easy chance at the rim:
A little hard to see obviously (blame the cameraman) but that should not result in a blown layup...
Again, he shouldn’t be missing this badly from so close:
Doumbouya tries to make things happen in the post but isn’t always successful in doing so.
Here, he tries post-up a smaller defender but misses his right-hand shot high off of glass:
Again, he tries to work the smaller defender down-low but again elects to go high off the glass and misses:
On this occasion, Doumbouya does find success as he spins, scores and draws the foul:
Again, a little unorthodox and not exactly clean looking but it got the job done.
I’m sure you’re putting the picture together yourself — Doumbouya is raw offensively. There’s a foundation there but I wouldn’t say there’s anything that Doumbouya is above average at anything offensively right now. I certainly wouldn’t expect him to excel offensively in the NBA on day one, though running in transition and dunking is something that translates fairly quickly.
In terms of passing/playmaking, there’s not a ton to look at here with Doumbouya — averaging 0.7 assists per game.
It’s...a mixed bag to say the least and it’s not in the best way.
Here, Doumbouya tries to make a cross-court pass out of a pick-and-roll but it sails way out of bounds:
On this play, he tries to make a pass in the paint but it results in a turnover:
In general, Doumbouya doesn’t handle a ton and when he does he doesn’t really create for others — as you can imagine for 0.7 of an assist per game. Maybe in time?
Let’s move onto defense, where things are slightly more interesting.
At 6’9 and with his ability to shift about at either forward position means his able to switch defensively, and it’s something he does often.
Here, he shows decent defense as he showcases his ability to switch:
This might be a better example, switching multiple times on this possession:
The one consistent thing defensively I saw was just how often he seemed to be beaten off the dribble.
On this play, Doumbouya is beaten on the drive and commits the foul after the fact:
Here, Doumbouya is again beaten off the dribble after switching but this time is scored on:
Faced with a smaller guard, Doumbouya is shredded out front, leading to a defensive breakdown before the help defense has to bail out the situation:
After a ball-fake gets the better of Doumbouya, he’s beaten off the dribble leading to a very good shot opportunity at the rim:
Sometimes Doumbouya can be indecisive — sometimes, aloof — defensively at times, such as this play here where it leads to a bucket, caught ball-watching when he should be boxing out the opponent to his right, who sticks the uncontested offensive rebound home:
It’s not all bad defensively, Doumbouya does have some good moments.
Here, he makes life difficult with double-team which helps lead to a turnover after the pass is forced:
On this play, Doumbouya shows better defensive ability on the drive but sadly for him it still ends up in a basket after a traffic collision in the paint:
Here, Doumbouya contests this shot well at the rim and helps forces a miss:
Here Doumbouya comes up with the steal in the opposition half and charges to the rim for the dunk:
Doumbouya doesn’t block a ton of shots but here was one after an offensive rebound:
Let’s bring this home (and we’ll summarize the defensive aspect).
Sekou Doumbouya as a player right now is a little raw — on both ends.
Offensively, he’s not exactly a refined package right now. That said, there is plenty of room to grow and his athletic tools add intrigue to the package. As shooter, he’s not the most amazing there is right now, as a slasher he’s not the most amazing, in the post he’s not amazing — he’s just not incredibly diverse offensively right now but he can do some damage in transition with his combination of speed and athleticism.
Defensively, a little raw and has plenty of improvements to make. He has good physical tools to work with but you’d like to see him hold his own a little better out front given his size and speed. The fact he can switch and is interchangeable at either forward spot is nice but it’s still a struggle defensively for the most part. You’d like to see him a, perhaps, little more active as a shot-blocker given his athletic tools and length at the forward spot, especially if he’s going to be playing power forward in the NBA which did he quite a bit of this season.
Again, he’s 18 years old and there’s a lot of potential to game on both ends — again, that’s the reason why he is so highly rated heading into this draft. It’s about upside here — think of lesser versions of Giannis Antentokounmpo and Pascal Siakam where it takes maybe a few years to see the talent come to the surface in the NBA but when it does, it’ll look great.
For the Atlanta Hawks at picks eight and ten, it’s a risky move. Well, I’ll rephrase... If the Hawks keep both eight and ten, it’s risky to spend the eighth pick on Doumbouya — there’s just an unknown element when it comes to Doumbouya’s ceiling. It’s a risky pick so high up the draft for someone who isn’t the most skilled basketball player this second and I can’t help but wonder if Hawks GM Travis Schlenk might want something a little more secure looking come June, even if Doumbouya ends up becoming one of the better players from this draft.
If you’re the Washington Wizards— a team whose future is a little more bleak than Atlanta’s — at No. 9 overall, Doumbouya is worth a stab. For the Hawks at No. 8... it’s risky. Maybe less so at No. 10 if the Hawks keep those two picks and Schlenk wants to hit a potential home-run — and I could see it, it wouldn’t surprise me if Doumbouya turned into something good. Just risky.
Time will tell what the Hawks do — their final draft positions will surely change once again before Draft Day comes and goes, especially in light of the reported Taurean Prince trade.
We shall see...