The Pistons' first round draft pick, Sekou Doumbouya, talks about his life and his game during his introductory press conference. Daniel Mears, The Detroit News
Detroit – Chauncey Billups, who led the Pistons to the NBA title in 2004, believes Sekou Doumbouya will deliver on his promising prospects, but he warned about the youth of Detroit’s first-round draft pick.
“I think he’s going to be a good player, but he’s young, only 18, youngest player in the draft but full of potential,” Billups said Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena, as the Big3 made a stop in Detroit. “Potential’s a dangerous thing. You never know when you fulfill it.”
Billups retired as a Big3 player in March and is now an ambassador for the league.
According to Billups, the 2004 NBA Finals MVP, veteran presence in the locker room will be key in Doumbouya’s development.
“If he sticks with Blake (Griffin), he’ll understand how to work and be a pro in his approach to the game,” Billups said.
Billups admitted that as constructed the Pistons will have trouble getting out of the NBA’s middle class but thinks the current roster could get better.
“They need some more talent. They can’t do it with what they have,” Billups said. “They need their good players to play better, but you can’t ask much more of Blake (Griffin). I think Andre (Drummond) is a talented player that can level up a little bit.”
The trend in the NBA has been to emphasize guard and wing play, and Billups reinforced Detroit’s need to get better there.
“They need better guard play,” Billups said. “Reggie (Jackson) had a decent year, but you really need more production from the 2-guard spot. These days, it’s all about guards and wings. Reggie’s good enough at the point guard spot, but you need a two (shooting guard) and a three (small forward) to move the needle. That’s the blueprint.”
Billups’ name came up last offseason when the Pistons were filling out their front office after the departure of Stan Van Gundy. Billups has long been rumored to be ready to run an NBA team but made it clear he has no influence on Pistons management decisions.
“They (the Pistons) have people that they pay a lot of money to do that and know more than me.”
Billups has been involved in the Big3 since its inception in 2017. He was slated to play last season when the Big3 swung through Detroit but sat out because of a knee surgery.
“I was one of the first players to commit to the Big3,” Billups said. “I want to see it go on. I want to see Ice Cube create a league that lasts forever. I’m just here to lend a helping hand.”
Lieberman still blazing trail
Much has been made of John Beilein making Lindsay Gottlieb the seventh female assistant coach in the NBA recently, but former Detroit Shock coach Nancy Lieberman has been coaching men for 10 years.
She became the first woman to coach professional men in 2009 when she became coach of the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League and then went on to become an assistant coach in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings. Now Lieberman coaches the Power, reigning Big3 champions who won their matchup over former Piston Jason Maxiell’s team, 3’s Company, on Saturday night.
“We’re really happy to be back in Detroit,” Lieberman said. “My coaching career started here in ’98. I love this community. If people like Ice Cube and the Big3 leadership continue to be open-minded, all possibilities the future is bright for women in this vocation.”
Quentin Richardson, who played in the NBA for 13 years and is now a member of the Power, believes the NBA is ready for a female head coach and was effusive in his praise for Liberman.
“I think locker rooms can absolutely handle it (having a woman as a coach),” Richardson said. “A month ago we started getting emails about plays and tendencies. No one else in the league is doing that. She’s as prepared as any coach I’ve ever played for: Stan Van Gundy, Larry Brown, Mike D’Antoni, Alvin Gentry, some great coaches. She’s right up there with any of them. She deserves all the credit for what’s going on with us. And she’s not a full staff — it’s just her.”