Casey Q&A III: Pistons No. 1 pick Sekou Doumbouya ‘a keeper for our program’

No. 1 pick Sekou Doumbouya had a tough summer on the health front, but is a ‘keeper for our program,’ Pistons coach Dwane Casey says.
Sean Berry/NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

(Editor’s note: Today continues a five-part interview of Dwane Casey with less than two weeks until training camp opens for the 2019-20 Pistons season. He spoke with Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois last week. In Part III, Casey talks about the three players the Pistons chose in the June NBA draft – Sekou Doumbouya, Deividas Sirvydis and Jordan Bone.)

KEITH LANGLOIS: One newcomer we still haven’t gotten to is your first-round draft pick, Sekou Doumbouya. He’s almost preposterously young.

DWANE CASEY: He is. And he’s been up and down because he was hampered by injury during Summer League and in workouts he’s been nicked up a little bit this summer. It’s been a tough summer for him health wise, but a talented young man. Had a very good day working out today with the coaches, shot the ball very well. He’s a young kid. Don’t know exactly what he’s going to be, who he’s going to be yet. This month will be a telltale month and training camp will be big for him to get indoctrinated into the NBA game, so a great kid and another great body. Another really good body as far as a defensive player is concerned.

KL: I don’t think anyone in the building thought on draft night that you were expecting immediate help from him, but has the fact he’s been nicked up a bit this summer clouded the evaluation of where he’s at and what kind of timeline you could envision for him?

DC: No, I know who he is. He’s a talented young man. Whether he’s going to help us this year or not, don’t know that yet. I hope he surprises me. I’m wide open. I’m not one of these guys that just because a guy is young, not going to play. If he can help us win games, he’s going to be out there. He has the size like Tony Snell at the three that can guard. He’s strong. But he’s 18, so he’s got some growing to do and to learn the NBA game. He’s shown flashes in the workouts, like, whoa, where did that come from? It’s there, but learning the nuances and the timing, the speed, the change of speed of an NBA game, it’s different from the Euro game – a little faster, better athletes, stronger athletes. It takes a little time to get used to that, but he is a keeper for our program.

KL: I know he’s played professionally in France and he’s been on his own, but I’m sure you’re all appreciative of the fact he’s still an 18-year-old kid from another country, trying to learn a new language and get familiar with a new city and a new job and really being on his own. That seems like a huge adjustment on every front.

DC: It is a huge adjustment. We’re going to get him English lessons because it’s a different thing for him now. At 18, he’s just growing up as a young man. It’s on us as an organization to help him grow to be a man. We’re throwing a kid into the lion’s den, but that’s what the league is going to these next two, three years when the new rule comes in. We’ll have a good chance to practice with Sekou of how to develop and grow, not only basketball players, but young men. He’s a class young man, a great kid. His parents did an excellent job. His dad’s a general in the military over there. We have the luxury of bringing him along at the right pace.

KL: I know you’re a big believer in the G League. But because Sekou is so young and new to everything, will you be any more reluctant to send him to another different environment?

DC: He’ll have all the month of September and October to really work and try to figure out what we’re doing, but to get those games in, we’ll see where he is at the end of training camp. If he’s ready to step in and play with us, he’ll be with us. But if not he’ll spend time … I always go back, there’s no disrespect to going to the G League. I would say that it helped Khyri Thomas last year. We have some other good candidates for our G League team, too, in Donta Hall and a lot of our young kids who’ve had a good summer. Lou King, Jordan Bone, all those guys, the G League is going to help. That group reminds me of the group we had in Toronto, the young guys in VanVleet and Delon Wright, all those guys came in kind of the same time and were together and that’s my vision for Jordan Bone and Donta Hall and Lou King. And if Sekou is in and out of the group, that will be great for him, too.

KL: I know your first second-round pick, Deividas Sirvydis, will play back in Lithuania this year. We didn’t see a ton of him in Summer League, but you could see the length, the shooting touch, the creativity, looks like he’s got some ball skills for a kid with his size. What were your impressions of him?

DC: Same thing as Sekou – young. The advantage Sekou has over him is he’s got a great body whereas Deividas has to really work on his strength and his body, which he’s going to do. We’ve given him a plan with his team that doesn’t conflict with what his team is doing in Lithuania, but his whole thing now is just getting physically ready for the NBA. His skills are there – 3-point shooting, passing, his dad’s a coach. He knows the game; he’s just got to get the physical tools to be able to help him.

KL: I know your front office had Jordan Bone rated a first-round talent. He got a little bit of a late start in Summer League as you awaited trade clearance, then he got thrown into a game without having gone through a practice and acquitted himself pretty well. What have you seen from him throughout the summer?

DC: With Jordan, the key with him is learning to be a point guard in the NBA. He’s got the speed. He’s a blur. He’s a lot like Ish. He’s got the Ish-type speed. He’s more of a scoring point guard, more of a Joe Dumars-type who can score with speed. He is a keeper. We were lucky to get him in the second round because of his ability, his speed, that ability to create his own shot. It’s going to be a lot of good days ahead for him in this league. It may be some time, definitely some time this year with Derrick (Rose) and Reggie (Jackson) and Tim (Frazier) together. The minutes may be a little sparse for him. But as long as he’s patient, we’re going to bring him along the right way. I think the sky’s the limit for Jordan.

In Thursday’s Part IV, Casey talks about mainstays Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard.

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