Despite the haphazard nature of this NBA offseason, Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey has been impressed with the amount of work his young players have managed to put in.
Phase 2 of group workouts started this week, and Casey hasn’t noticed any conditioning issues. Even though it’s the first time the Pistons have been able to scrimmage as a team since mid-March, he said the Pistons would be ready to go if next season were to start soon.
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One player who has stood out? Sekou Doumbouya.
Casey and his teammates have made a point to praise him for the effort and improvement he’s shown this offseason. After an uneven rookie season, it bodes well for his future.
“Sekou is having a good week,” Casey told reporters on Saturday. “His seriousness and his approach has really improved. His body is in excellent condition. He’s been one of the bright spots.”
The 15th pick of the 2019 NBA draft showed flashes as a rookie last season, but his low moments were typical for the league’s youngest player. Casey, at times, questioned his effort and passion for the game.
Injuries thrusted Doumbouya, 19, into a bigger role with the Pistons than coaches initially anticipated for him. His season averages don’t jump off of the page — 6.4 points and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 39% overall and 28.6% from the 3-point line in 38 games. But when he was engaged, it was clear that he has a bright future in the league.
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From Jan. 3-15, Doumbouya made the first eight starts of his career and averaged 14 points, 5.3 rebounds and a steal while shooting 54.4% from the floor and 41.4% from the 3-point line. He played at his best when he leveraged his athleticism to score at the rim and take advantage of transition opportunities.
The Pistons would love to see more of that from him, and he’s shown it this week.
“Sekou’s looking really strong,” Luke Kennard said. “He’s been playing really well. He’s being really physical, which is really good to see. He was physical last year, but this year you can tell he’s looking really strong and fast.”
Doumbouya is a project, and his ideal NBA position isn’t yet clear. He played three quarters of his minutes at power forward, per Cleaning The Glass, with the remainder being played at small forward. He has the size (6-foot-9, 230 pounds) and athleticism to be a small-ball center, but he also moves well enough to play wing. He’ll have to continue to develop as a ball-handler and shooter either way.
According to Bruce Brown, Doumbouya has been working to add a little of everything to his game.
“He’s working hard,” Brown said. “He’s got something to prove this summer. He’s coming in with a chip on his shoulder, working on his game hard. He’s working on big man stuff and guard stuff, so he’s definitely putting in the work and it’s going to be a good year for him.”
Casey said he’s been as hard on Doumbouya as he has on any of his players this offseason. Doumbouya was considered to be one of the highest-upside players of his draft class, and the Pistons were happy to get him.
He has to prove he can be consistent every night, and he appears to be on the right track.
“He’s done a heck of a job with his body, in the weight room, conditioning,” Casey said. “His intensity level with his workouts has been great.”
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons' Sekou Doumbouya a 'bright spot' for during workouts