France has produced its fair share of NBA prospects over the last few years. From the recently retired Tony Parker to veteran big men such as Joakim Noah and Rudy Gobert, several Frenchmen are making their mark in the big leagues.
Sekou Doumbouya is possibly the next big thing out of the country, as the Guinean-born forward is a projected first-round draft pick tonight at Barclays Center (7 p.m. EST, ESPN).
The 18-year old made his mark for local club teams in Paris and Poitiers. Despite the age gap between the then 14-year old and his older teammates, he posted impressive statistics at Poitiers and on the national team per Bleacher Report.
Playing with and against professionals many years his senior, Doumbouya posted 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in nearly 17 minutes per game. That December, he helped lead the French national under-18 team to a European championship in Turkey. Against age-group competition, his numbers boomed, to the tune of 17.8 points and 7.0 rebounds a game.
At FIBA U18 European Championship 2016, he broke out with a 31-point against Serbia. At one point, he shot 61.3 percent from the field, adding 6.3 boards per game to go with 1.3 blocks. His most recent stint has been with Limoges CSP.
It’s this production, plus his 6-foot-9, 231-pound frame, that has Doumbouya possibly thinking lottery tonight in Brooklyn. Let’s look at his projections, mock and best team fits.
Sekou Doumbouya NBA Draft Projections & Mocks
In terms of mock drafts, our own Jonathan Adams has him going No. 11 to the Timberwolves.
Meanwhile, SI.com’s Jeremy Woo has Doumbouya going a few spots higher to the Washington Wizards at No. 9 overall. Woo notes that the youngster has “appealing physical tools and potential versatility at forward.”
He’s thought to be far off from a maturity standpoint, and his skill set is still being fleshed out, but his athleticism, strength and shooting touch are tangible, and he showcased appealing defensive versatility over the course of the season in France. The tools are enough to gamble on, but he’ll require some patience.
Woo also notes that the Hawks, as well as John Beilein and the Cavaliers, have given him an extensive look. ESPN has him going No. 9, as well. This would mean that both Cleveland (No. 5 overall) and Atlanta (No. 8 overall) would be passing up the Frenchman.
Sekou Doumbouya Scouting Report & Best Fit
Doumbouya is considered a raw prospect, as he only has been playing since he was 12. Chicago is one of the teams that could draft him, and the Tribune’s K.C. Johnson states that Doumbouya has relied too much on his athleticism.
A long, fluid two-way player with a 6-foot-11 wingspan and raw athleticism that is intriguing to many. He won’t turn 19 until December and didn’t get serious about the game until he was 12, but he has already played three seasons professionally in France.
His fundamentals have drawn questions as he has relied on his athleticism often, and his decision-making has created a turnover-prone reputation. This pick would be a project in every sense of the word.
With that said, he has potential with his 3-point shot, as he shot 34.3 percent last year with Limoges. If he develops a more consistent stroke from deep, that complements well with his ability in transition, as he can run up and down the floor with ease.
Should he fall a bit down the board, there are a couple excellent fits. That ability on the fast break jives well with both the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks. Both are friendly systems for foreign players, and both rank near the top of the league in transition.
Since both are already contenders in the Eastern Conference, Doumbouya could be brought along slowly and deployed once ready. If he goes too early to a team like the Wizards or Pistons, they might force him into action too soon and hamper his growth.