'A kid with big upside': Pistons select Sekou Doumbouya with 15th pick

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — With so much activity and uncertainty in the hours before Thursday’s NBA draft, the Pistons had to play wait-and-see before they made their pick.

After special adviser Ed Stefanski said this week that the Pistons were looking at possibilities for either trading up or trading down in the first round, they ended up staying put. With the pick, they selected Sekou (SEH-coo) Doumbouya (doom-boo-YAH), a 6-foot-9 wing who was born in Guinea and played professionally in France, on Thursday night.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left, greets Sekou Doumbouya, of France, after the Detroit Pistons selected him as the 15th pick overall in the NBA basketball draft Thursday.

“We finally got a guy with some size. We have a lot of 6-4 to 6-6 guys. We got a kid with big upside,” Stefanski said. “We have to work with him to develop him but there’s a lot of things to like about this guy.”

Following a 41-41 season and a first-round sweep from the playoffs, the Pistons were looking to improve their depth. They added to it Wednesday night agreeing to trade big man Jon Leuer to the Milwaukee Bucks for forward Tony Snell and the 30th pick.

Doumbouya, who is just 18 years old, is expected to help build the depth at small forward, joining Snell and Svi Mykhailiuk in a revamped positional grouping, after the Pistons dealt the expiring contracts of Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson at the trade deadline in February.

There wasn’t much intel on Doumbouya in the weeks leading up to the draft but the Pistons sent a contingent including head coach Dwane Casey and director of player personnel Greg Polinsky, to Doumbouya’s pro day in Frisco, Texas.

That convinced them, though they thought Doumbouya was rated higher and wouldn’t be available to them at No. 15.

“He really had a big-time workout and he knocked down a ton of jump shots — I mean, a ton,” Stefanski said.

Aside from the Pistons’ trade Wednesday, the flurry of trades on Thursday added some intrigue to the first round, with several top-10 picks changing hands. The first three picks weren’t in question, though, as the Pelicans took Zion Williamson, the Grizzlies got Ja Morant and the Knicks grabbed R.J. Barrett.

The Pistons had several wing options leading up to their selection, including Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, North Carolina’s Nassir Little and Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson. Indiana wing Romeo Langford, a popular selection for the Pistons in mock drafts, was selected 14th by the Celtics.

Instead, they settled on Doumbouya, who won’t turn 19 until December. The Pistons like his athleticism and versatility — and Stefanski specifically mentioned how quickly he moves his feet — but it may take some time to let him develop.

“He’s 18. Everybody’s going to look at it and it’s great all the pundits will say who got the best picks and what’s going to happen. We’ll know in probably two to three years,” he said. “Tonight we’re really happy that he fell to 15.”

With so much movement, the Pistons looked at trading up in the draft, but the price proved too costly for Stefanski.

“(Teams) wanted too much. We can’t give up the future to move up,” Stefanski said. “I’m happy we didn’t; we sat where we were. A lot of times, the draft comes to you.”

Some complications could prevent the Pistons from seeing Doumbouya play in the Summer League, which begins July 5 in Las Vegas.


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard