The 2019-2020 NBA season has not been kind to the Detroit Pistons or their fans. But hope lies in the 19 year old rookie.
In a year that has so far seen over half of the Detroit Pistons roster go down with injury, including their star player Blake Griffin, (who is presumably going to miss the remainder of the season following yet another knee surgery) how do you find hope? What reason do you have to keep watching these Pistons games?
Sekou Doumbouya. Detroit’s most recent first round draft pick deserves your attention, and he’s slowly but surely going to gain it not just from Pistons fans – but from basketball fans all around the world. He has a genuine chance at becoming a key piece in this organization’s future and although he’s only started four games this season, he’s come up big in every single outing.
His first three defensive match ups were Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, and LeBron James. At the end of they day he is only 19 years old so the amount of “jaw dropping defense” that can be played on three of the league’s best players can only reach a certain extent. However, he did a respectable job staying in front on Leonard, and forced James into several passing situations due to his close defensive positions. (Green was thrown out of the game too early for Doumbouya to make much of an impression)
His fourth and most recent start came against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he found himself up against both Cedi Osman and Kevin Love. While there were admittedly no glaring examples of impeccable defense being played, Doumbouya did come away with 3 steals in the game. Not only that, but he provided us with the dunk of the season, sending Tristan Thompson into the ground.
Through the four games he’s started Doumbouya is averaging 13.0 points per game along with 7.0 rebounds on 47.6 percent shooting and 31.3 percent from three-point range. His season averages are heavily weighted by his “garbage time” minutes that he’s played throughout the year where he only gets on the court for one or two minutes. (six total games)
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His athleticism, his defending abilities, his mechanics, his rebounding, all of it. He’s only been playing basketball for seven years and he’s already this talented. Though there are certainly some areas he needs to improve. You’ll occasionally see his teammates pointing out to him where exactly he needs to be on the floor. This happens on offense far more than it does on defense, and luckily this issue has also started to decrease as he gains more experience.
Fans never expected him to large minutes this season, much less be in the starting lineup. Now that he is, it’s still shocking to see just how much playing time Dwane Casey is giving him. He’s averaging 33.2 minutes per game, which included a 38 minute effort in the Pistons win over the Golden State Warriors.
His development is only beginning but the way it’s being handled is slightly admirable. He doesn’t immediately get pulled if he makes a mistake or commits too many fouls, Casey is letting him figure it out on his own. This may sound like negligence, but it couldn’t be further from that. Doumbouya is figuring it out.
When your team’s season has more or less gone off the rails like it has in Detroit, all you can begin to do is look for small silver linings, and that’s what he is. A glimpse into what could eventually blossom into an All-Star, or an All-NBA caliber player. Doumbouya’s skill set is underdeveloped right now – but it still exists and he can still hurt the opposition.
If nothing else, Pistons fans have Sekou Doumbouya.