Sekou Doumbouya a ‘bright spot’ so far of Detroit Pistons team camp, Casey says
When Dwane Casey lobbied for a Pistons team camp to stave off the effects of six months devoid of competitive basketball, there was no one more prominent in mind than Sekou Doumbouya.
Not just because Doumbouya was the NBA’s youngest player last season or because he’s the most recent Pistons No. 1 pick, but because no one has more room for growth – or a higher ceiling should that growth enable Doumbouya to realize his full potential – than the French teen, still three months removed from turning 20.
And where Doumbouya is concerned, no one has shown more through the opening days of team camp than he has – or done more to give Casey peace of mind that this unprecedented layoff won’t inflict long-term damage on player development.
Casey, speaking to reporters after day four of group workouts Saturday afternoon, volunteered Doumbouya’s name first when ticking off the things that had pleased him from team camp so far.
“The young guys have responded,” he said. “Sekou has had a good week. His seriousness of his approach has really improved. His body is in excellent condition. He’s one of the bright spots.”
Casey on a handful of occasions last season – sometimes subtly, at other times a little more directly – alluded to Doumbouya needing to become a more rigorous student of the game, a more diligent worker. None of that was surprising for the Pistons, who understood when they drafted Doumbouya after one season in France’s top pro league that he had much to digest about what it was to be an NBA pro amid the best basketball players in the world.
Part of his rookie education was observing the work ethic of pros like Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose and the dedication of young players like Bruce Brown – who took Doumbouya under his wing at Summer League in July 2019 – to the player development regimen devised for him.
So to see Doumbouya, who had a brilliant first two weeks in the NBA after making his first start in late December and then endured a roller-coaster ride until the March 11 suspension of the season, respond the way he has over the summer is as encouraging as anything the Pistons can take out of the most unusual off-season they’ve experienced.
“He’s working hard,” Brown said of Doumbouya. “He’s got something to prove this summer. He’s coming in with a chip on his shoulder. He’s working on his game hard. He’s working on big man stuff and guard stuff. He’s definitely putting in the work. It’s going to be a good year for him.”
Luke Kennard, like Casey, also offered unsolicited praise of Doumbouya.
“Sekou’s looking really strong,” Kennard said. “He’s been playing really well. He’s been really physical, which is good to see. This year, you can tell, he’s looking really strong and fast. Guys have been working and that’s really good to see.”
The Pistons get another nine days in their bubble as allowed by the agreement struck between the NBA and its players association for the eight franchises excluded from the Orlando relaunch of the 2019-20 season. Then they’ll wait on word for when training camp can start, perhaps not until December – another prolonged layoff.
Based on what Dwane Casey has seen from his young players so far at the Pistons Performance Center, this time he won’t worry so much about what he’ll discover whenever it is they’ll reconvene for the 2021 season.