Post Scorer

Sekou Doumbouya Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Sekou Doumbouya had one of the most impressive performances you will ever see at the 2016 FIBA U18 European Championships last December. According to RealGM, the teenager posted averages of 21.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per 40 minutes against players almost three years older than him, as he was yet to turn 16 at the time of the tournament.

That was possible because despite his age, Doumbouya already has an NBA-caliber frame, listed at six-foot-nine and 210 pounds by Draft Express, so he’s able to not only compete above his age group but even dominate from a physical-standpoint, as France used him as a big man who made most of his plays close to the basket.

Without a whole lot else to improve in terms of size, except maybe grow another inch or two and fortify the strength he already possesses, Doumbouya is off to the pro level, as INSEP[1] has loaned him to Poitiers 86, a club that plays the French LNB Pro B – the country’s second division, where he’s already logged 214 minutes in 15 appearances this season.

ATHLETIC ABILITY

Doumbouya excelled at everything related to athletic ability at the 2016 FIBA U18 European Championships.

He got consistently deep post position due to his combination of size and strength. According to RealGM, Doumbouya finished 30.4% of France’s possessions with a shot, foul shot or turnover in his 29.4 minutes per game on the floor, with a good chunk of his touches coming with his back to the basket.

He used his strength to back his way into short range hooks and even flashed some fluid footwork, though he is yet to develop a diverse set of moves. Relying heavily on his power moves, Doumbouya drew fouls in volume and averaged 8.2 foul shots per 40 minutes.

Put in the pick-and-roll, he was a pretty shitty screener who almost never to draw contact but flashed elite explosiveness elevating off two feet to play above the rim as a target for lobs.

His effort on the offensive glass wasn’t all that impressive but Doumbouya appears to have elite length to rebound outside of his area, collecting 11% of France’s misses when he was on the floor – far from an elite mark, but a meaningful contribution nonetheless.

When he stepped outside on the perimeter from time to time, Doumbouya showed a lot of fluidity attacking closeouts and coordination to take it from outside the three-point line all the way to the basket on straight line drives, able to cover a ton of ground with his long strides and maintain his balance through contact.

On the other end, Doumbouya showed flashes of potential elite defense. When he is in position and puts in the effort to make plays, his quickness and length can act as difference makers.

During his best moments, Doumbouya used his mobility to defend all over the floor; running shooters off the three-point line on long closeouts, showing-and-recovering on pick-and-rolls way high in the perimeter, keeping pace with dribble drivers when they got downhill in the pick-and-roll and picking up smaller players on switches – working hard on ball denial, bending his knees to get low in a stance, showcasing lateral quickness to stay in front and using his length to intimidate shots.

His biggest impact was still close to the basket, though. When he finds himself well positioned, Doumbouya can elevate explosively off two feet stepping into the front of the basket to block shots.

He’s also attentive to his boxout responsibilities and proved himself able to hold his ground and get physical against older competition, collecting 20.2% of opponents’ misses at this event.

SKILL LEVEL & AWARENESS

But though he’s shown some flashes, Doumbouya is still in his infancy with regards to the finer details of the game, those related to skill level and recognition of what’s going on around him in a given moment.

He’s shown glimpses of intelligent play on defense, rotating inside to cut off the roll man diving to the basket but his awareness is still mostly iffy and he doesn’t challenge enough shots at the basket because of it. Despite his explosiveness elevating off one foot as well, Doumbouya doesn’t often make it to the rim in help defense, which is why he averaged just 1.1 blocks per 40 minutes at this event – a good chunk of those in transition defense.

And though he did very well in individual defense, Doumbouya is still easily tricked by shot fakes, as he’s prone to leaving his feet to try blocking jump-shots and makes himself vulnerable to fouling.

On offense, Doumbouya can handle the ball in transition but isn’t yet a viable option to initiate offense regularly because his handle is loose and he struggles against pressure.

Doumbouya can get to the basket in isolation thanks to his explosive first step and long strides, proving himself able to blow by just about every opposing big he faced in that tournament, but doesn’t yet have a particularly advanced set of dribble moves. He did flash the abilities to hesitate-and-go and go between the legs but doesn’t have much side-to-side shake.

At the basket, Doumbouya struggled to finish through contact and with his touch on non-dunk finishes, which explains his below average .452 effective field goal percentage, despite the fact he didn’t take many jumpers.

Most of the jumpers he did take were catch-and-shoot three-pointers out of spot-ups, as he didn’t show any dynamism in his shot to get looks out of the pick-and-pop or coming off screens. His release is not all that consistent yet, as he missed 17 of his 20 three-point shots at the 2016 U18 FIBA European Championships but has nailed 10 of his 25 such attempts with Poitiers in the French LNB Pro B.

He is still very raw in terms of being able to create for others as well. Doumbouya has flashed some very appealing ability to make drop-off passes on dribble drives with Poitiers but struggled mightily in traffic or when double teamed and crowded in post at the Euros U18, averaging 5.1 turnovers per 40 minutes and handing out just three assists in six appearances at the event.

[1] The French sports academy sponsored by the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sport

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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3D Point Guard, Pure Passer, Shot Creator, Tall Passer

Frank Ntilikina Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Frank Ntilikina is the top European prospect eligible for the 2017 class. Draft Express currently ranks him 10th in its top 100 and it could be argued that’s a bit low considering the 18-year-old will be one of the youngest players in the class if he chooses to declare for it (only turning 19 in July) and the fact that no other lottery prospect has accumulated the level of experience Ntilikina already has.

The six-foot-five combo guard has logged 758 minutes of pro ball for French side Strasbourg over the past two years and this season has earned a role as a legit rotation player who has averaged 15 minutes per game in 29 appearances in the French Pro A and the Basketball Champions League.

Both competitions Strasbourg plays in aren’t of the highest quality, ranking a good deal below the best domestic and continental leagues in Europe – which are the Spanish ACB and the EuroLeague. Nonetheless, these are fully developed grown men Ntilikina is competing against, which is tougher than playing Washington State or Wake Forest.

That said, Ntilikina is not as well thought of as he is now because of what he’s done as a pro. Playing in an environment where wins and losses cost people money and jobs means prospects are rarely given much opportunity to expand their skill-sets during games. Such is the case as Ntilikina has filled a role as an off-guard for Strasbourg, mostly spacing the floor and rarely given shot creation responsibility, as he’s finished just 18.8% of his team’s possessions with a shot, free throw or turnover when he’s been on the floor – according to our stats’ database.

But Ntilikina’s performances against his age group, including leading the French junior National Team to the title of the 2016 FIBA U18 European Championships in December, are what have caught people’s attention.

As a part of national teams at the youth level, Ntilikina has shown he can act as a volume shot creator, capable of getting his team shots on an every-possession basis, which combined with his height, makes him an elite prospect, even in a class as strong as this 2017 one is perceived to be.

SHOT CREATION

Though his size offers positional versatility, Ntilikina is viewed as a legit lead ball handler based on what he’s done against his age peers and has impressed with how sophisticated a shot creator he is for a teenager.

He has very good understanding of how to maneuver his defender around a ball-screen, a nice feel for whether using or declining the pick gives him a better advantage for getting downhill and patience to play with pace waiting for driving lanes to clear against hedges, hard shows and half-traps.

Ntilikina has excellent court vision on the move, proving himself able to make passes across his body to the opposite end of the court. He’s also able to see over the average point guard-size defender when that defender manages to prevent him from turning the corner.

According to our stats database, Ntilikina assisted on 40.3% of France’s scores when he was on the floor in the 2016 U18 FIBA European Championships. His 1.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in this event wasn’t as pleasing but he posted a 3.3 ratio in this same tournament the year before, so it’s still unclear to which extent Ntilikina is turnover prone.

Creating for himself, Ntilikina has proven to be a little more limited without the aid of a screen. He does have a tight handle and has shown in the past a diverse arsenal of moves to get wherever he wants on the court. But he doesn’t have an explosive first step and has struggled to blow by big men on switches.

SCORING

Ntilikina can get around some defenders with craft and sudden change of direction but has struggled to get all the way to the basket regularly, instead relying a lot on his floater to finish over length from the in-between area. He has great touch on these finishes but it’s tough to make a living with this shot as your top way to score within close range, which is his case right now.

Ntilikina has flashed some explosiveness elevating out of one foot in traffic here and there in the past but doesn’t often do that. He also doesn’t use his length for extended finishes around the basket enough at this point of his development and doesn’t yet have a big enough frame to draw contact, as he averaged just 3.7 foul shots per 40 in the U18 Euros – which wasn’t an impressive mark in the context of his 24% usage rate.

Ntilikina has improved as a pull-up shooter, though. His low release still demands he gets a good deal of separation to get the ball out comfortably but he is a lot more capable of burning opponents who opt to go under the ball-screen and have the big man only go up to the foul line against him, even flashing the ability to make these shots from beyond the FIBA three-point line.

And as a spot-up shooter, Ntilikina has taken a substantial step forward. He runs some side pick-and-roll at Strasbourg but for the most part he is not relied on to create against a set defense, so his role is as a floor spacer. And in that role, Ntilikina has excelled.

His low release, while not necessarily textbook, has not limited him as an open-shot shooter, as he’s nailed 38.2% of his 55 three-point shots this season. His trigger is quicker than it was last season and Ntilikina has even shown some dynamism, coming off pindown screens from time to time. That’s not enough to suggest he has room to develop into an Isaiah Thomas-level of shooter who can sprint from one side of the floor to the other around screens but it’s definitely enough to envision him working as a screener on small-small pick-and-rolls Matthew Dellavedova-style.

One thing Ntilikina still needs to develop is a side-step to escape closeouts, though. He often dribbles in to take a one-dribble two-pointer.

DEFENSE

Ntilikina is expected to develop into an impact defender given his size, length and quickness. But he’s only halfway there for now.

Strasbourg mostly plays him as a weak-side defender and Ntilikina has shown good awareness off the ball, attentive to his responsibilities rotating inside to bump the roll man diving to the basket and using his six-foot-11 wingspan to make plays in the passing, averaging 1.7 steals per 40 minutes.

He hasn’t shown enough leaping ability to make plays at the basket and his defensive rebounding hasn’t translated to the pro level yet, though.

For the French junior national team, Ntilikina played mostly as an on-ball defender, with mixed results. He does go over screens and has the lateral quickness to stay attached to his man in side pick-and-rolls but hasn’t shown much urgency tracking his man back when he gets downhill, exposing the defense behind him.

Ntilikina has great potential to unlock as a pick-and-roll defender, using his length to deflect passes and contest shots from behind. But for that to happen, he needs to hustle back to his man quicker.

Ntilikina might also have potential to pick up bigger players on switches some day in the distant future but that’s definitely not the case yet as he lacks strength and toughness to get physical with them fronting the post and boxing out.

But Ntilikina truly shined in individual defense among his age peers. He gets in a stance and uses his lateral quickness to stay in front. When they tried to take him one-on-one, these European teenagers really struggled getting a good shot off against his length. And though he lacks strength to contain dribble penetration through contact, Ntilikina uses his reach to pickpocket opposing point guards, averaging 3.2 steals per 40 minutes at the 2016 U18 European Championships, which led to him posting the fourth lowest defending rating in that tournament.

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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