Sekou Doumbouya: The Most Interesting Prospect in the World

Source: Solotiana Wade

Every year, at least one international prospect catches the eyes of NBA executives and gets drafted high in the lottery. It was Luka Doncic in 2018, Frank Ntilikina in 2017, Dragan Bender in 2016, Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja in 2015… and the list goes on. This year, that player appears to be 6'9" French forward Sekou Doumbouya.


Sekou Doumbouya was born December 23, 2000 in Guinea but moved to France when he was very young. He was originally a soccer player but eventually got into playing basketball at the age of 12 and hasn’t looked back since. He first rose to prominence in the 2016 FIBA Europe U18 Championship where he, along with the aforementioned Frank Ntilikina, led France to not only a tournament victory, but also being named to the all-tournament team as well. Not long after, he signed his first professional contract with Poitiers Basket in France’s Pro B league when he was still 15 years old. He has remained at Poitiers for the last two years but has recently signed with Limoges CSP to play in France’s top league next year.

What We’ve Seen

So far in Doumbouya’s career he has shown a lot of a lot of promise, but also a lot of reason to be concerned with his development to this point. Every game he gives you plays that you can latch onto and come away feeling very positively but he’s still very, very raw and is still a bit more of a theoretical player at this point as opposed to being a full-on productive one.

The first thing that stands out when you watch Doumbouya is his fluidity and all-around athleticism. He’s incredibly fast and smooth for a 6'9" guy, which makes him a terror in transition. Sekou has the ability to take grab any rebound and take it the length of the court and score it himself or find an open teammate.

In the video above you see that lethal ability to grab and go as well as the passing touch. Sadly, his teammate did miss that layup at the end of that 2nd clip.

Something that I really like about Doumbouya is his ability to put the ball on the ground and drive to the basket aggressively. He’s got a solid handle that works very well in a straight line. He’s also quite strong despite having long, skinny arms. When he’s under control and determined, he can score in traffic quite easily.

Above, you can see that determination on display. Still, you would like to see that fire from him more often as his motor tends to run a bit hot-and-cold, resulting in him seemingly going through the motions at times.

A lot of Doumbouya’s offensive value, however, will be tied to his jump shot and how it continues to develop. Mechanically, it’s easy to like it as he has a quick, high release that results in a beautiful, high-arcing shot. However, he has struggled mightily with his consistency and overall touch on his jumper.

As mentioned before, he has a nice-looking shot and he’s shown the ability to get hot from beyond the three-point line before. I think he could be a very real catch-and-shoot threat, both while moving and while stationary. I struggle to see it translating to him being much of a pull-up threat, though. The big problem for me (and why I think he’s been so inconsistent) has to do with him rushing his mechanics. On a lot of his misses, it seems as if he tries to rush his shot, maybe getting a bit too excited to shoot or trying to avoid a defender closing out. If he can slow it down a bit more regularly I think you could see his shooting percentages rise significantly.

On defense, Sekou is still a ways away in terms of his feel and decision-making, but the physical profile and athletic gifts allow him a good margin for error and gives him plenty of upside in the future. It is concerning that I’ve rarely seen him in an actual stance, especially because I don’t think his change of direction is very good with his high hips. Still though, his ability to recover is impressive and gives you hope that he can become very valuable on that end in the future.

Sekou definitely has the potential to be a disruptor, and he will make highlight blocks like the ones above (he loves to crush players’ dreams of having an open layup in transition), but he needs to be more disciplined off the ball specifically in order to live up to the lofty expectations he’s being given as the top international player in this year’s class.

Overall, the sample we’ve gotten so far from Sekou Doumbouya is cautiously optimistic. He’s still super young, so decision-making and reliability questions aren’t out of the ordinary, but with a guy like him who’s played at a higher level for a couple years now you would hope he would be farther along in his development than where he currently is.

What We Hope to See

In case you haven’t picked up it quite yet, the major theme with Sekou is his inconsistency. He loves to give you glimpses of being a ballhandler, a shooter, a defender, etc., but he has yet to put it all together and still needs to prove that he’s more than a jack of all trades, master of none. An interesting thing to follow along this year is how Sekou handles the step up in competition, moving from France’s second-tier league to its top one. So while it is certainly unrealistic to expect Sekou to take a significant step in becoming consistent in every one of the previously mentioned areas, hopefully a new team and new league means he steps his game up in some areas to compensate.

A big thing that Doumbouya struggles with a lot is intelligence in the halfcourt. He’s prone to poor passes, travels, or just settling for awkward floaters or mid-range jumpers.

The play above is a perfect example of a very lazy pass that he needs to limit next season and beyond. While plays like this can definitely remind you how young he still is, it’s disappointing that things like this aren’t uncommon with him.

On a bit more of a positive note, I think Doumbouya has a lot of potential as a cutter. At 6'9" with his speed and long strides, he should be able to get open by cutting to the basket quite easily against most NBA fours.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t a role he was put in very much for Poitiers, so hopefully Limoges is able to see this potential in him and gets him plays like this next season.

Considering how young Doumbouya is, there is still plenty of potential for physical growth, in terms of height, weight and length. He’s currently 17 years old, and is already 6'9" with a 6'11" wingspan and listed at 230 pounds, definitely solid numbers for an NBA four. But if he were to maybe grow another inch and add significant weight to his frame it’s definitely likely that Doumbouya projects to be a center in the long run. You never know, but physical growth is always a possibility when evaluating younger players.

The biggest piece of intrigue with Doumbouya is the jump shot for sure. I mentioned before how it’s inconsistent, but the mechanics are very good. Looking at pure production from beyond the arc in his last 2 seasons in Pro B (23.9% in 16–17, 29.3% in 17–18), his shooting is still not where it needs to be. His free-throw shooting has definitely improved (59.4% in 16–17, 79% in 17–18) and while that is a pretty good indicator, you still can’t help but feel a little bit underwhelmed considering how good he could already be as an outside threat. The optimism is still there but if the production continues to disappoint that optimism will definitely fade. Ultimately the jumper will be key to him unlocking his full potential as what I think he could conceivably be, a 3-and-D energizer as a starting four on an NBA contender.

The Verdict

Sekou Doumbouya is definitely a difficult evaluation at such an early point in the draft process. He’s athletic, about as young as you can be for your draft class and he makes some impressive plays, but ultimately he’s a lot like a puzzle that’s halfway finished; you can kind of see a larger picture, but it’s still missing a lot of connecting pieces.

All that being said, I’m still heading into the season more positive than negative on Doumbouya. I love the functional athleticism especially on defense and I think he’s got room to potentially get even bigger and maybe be able to play some five in the NBA. He’s got a lot of natural talent, it just comes down to how soon will the game slow down for him, if it ever does?

At this point, it’s difficult to leave Doumbouya out of the lottery or even top 10 of this year’s class just due to the tools, youth and two-way potential. I do hope for his sake that he takes the opportunity to play in a better league and runs with it, but I really worry about it just being more of the same from him next year.

Stats courtesy of RealGM



NBA Draft for The 94 Feet Report and Northern Kentucky University student.

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James Kemmerer

NBA Draft for The 94 Feet Report and Northern Kentucky University student.