Detroit Pistons: Sekou Doumbouya deserves more playing time

Detroit Pistons forward Sekou Doumbouya (45) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons forward Sekou Doumbouya (45) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Pistons forward Sekou Doumbouya is 11th on the team in total minutes. His play has been good enough that he deserves better, regardless of what position they want to put him in.

Sekou Doumbouya has been stuck in a strange place to open up the new NBA season. Coming in, he was billed as one of the Detroit Pistons young centerpieces, along with the three first-round draft picks the Pistons made this off-season.

And yet, with the signing of Jerami Grant,  his pathway to serious playing time wasn’t clear. The team seems to (rightfully) project Sekou as a power forward long-term, but the team’s two highest paid players both play there even if Grant is moved to small forward next to Blake Griffin.

On top of that, general manager Troy Weaver signed two centers this offseason in Jahlil Okafor and Mason Plumlee after drafting another in Isaiah Stewart. So Sekou’s primary position not only had guys in front of him, but also center, where he has had a couple of spot appearances as a small-ball look.

That meant that the most likely position for him to find minutes was as a small forward but, apparently the team has decided not to do that for reasons that are not apparently clear. They’ve simply decided he doesn’t play the ‘3’.

This is especially frustrating since every other versatile guy on the roster has flipped around constantly.

Grant has swung between both forward positions, Josh Jackson has swapped between shooting guard and small forward, and Delon Wright has played just as much shooting guard as point guard. And yet, Doumbouya is stuck playing power forward, almost exclusively, other than when injuries or foul trouble have forced Detroit coach Dwane Casey’s hand.

This is all despite the fact that Sekou’s play has been deserving of more minutes.

He’s shooting the ball well from deep at 37.5%, and while the results of his pump and go drives haven’t shown up yet, he’s shooting just 28% inside the arc, he is showing confidence, and is consistently getting to the rim.

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Given that those drives were probably the strongest part of his game last season, it is fair to assume that the results will improve with additional experience and playing time. He’s been a terror running in transition, a must for a team with the half-court struggles that they have had of the Pistons.

His defense has also been generally good. In Monday’s 122-120 loss to the Boston Celtics, coach Dwane Casey was using him as a situational defensive replacement at the end.

He’s gotten noticably stronger and is in good control, avoiding dumb mistakes and fouls. His defense on some very good offensive players has been highly impressive.

Lastly, he has rebounded the ball better than any non-center on the roster. That is an important skill, given that the Pistons have a lot of mediocre rebounders on the wings. It’s worth noting he never hunts rebounds, but is awesome grabbing them in traffic, including a game-sealing defensive board against the Celtics in the Pistons only win of the season.

On top of all that, the team has given a lot of lip service to the idea of wanting to develop the young guys by letting them get real minutes. And yet Sekou, the guy in his second year (and just turned 20), and probably still the guy with the highest potential, is the only one that the team isn’t clearing minutes for.

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Not to say the three rookies have been underserving, but if you’re really doing that route, there is no reason for Sekou Doumbouya to have played less minutes than those three.