Once our dreams of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and/or RJ Barrett flew out the window on the night of the lottery, we’ve had to cast a much wider net in anticipation of the Bulls No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
But while most of the attention – so far – has been focused on guards like Coby White, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Culver, there’s no guarantee that any of those players will be available when the Bulls go on the clock (or even necessarily be the best available pick). In fact, there’s no guarantee they’ll go with a guard at all.
Earlier today, K.C. Johnson suggested that the Bulls might even be interested in big man Jaxson Hayes in the first-round, which would be a pretty extreme departure from conventional wisdom (given their needs). And we’ve seen rumor after rumor of them potentially looking to fill that void in free agency and/or trade.
It is with that in mind that I present to you the second, first-round talent worked out by the Bulls this summer, non-guard Sekou Doumbouya, who joined the team for a workout today!
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— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) June 13, 2019
Before this, the Bulls had worked out over 50 prospects for the second-round of the draft, but only one other first-round type talent (Jarrett Culver). Click through to the Bulls site for some pretty awesome pictures of the practice.
As for Doumbouya, he’s a pretty interesting player. Ranked 9th overall and 2nd at his position by CBS Sports, Doumbouya is a 6’9″ 209 lbs power forward out of Pro-A (France’s top professional league). And he’s only 18 years old, which cuts in a couple different directions.
Although Doumbouya is believed to have a high-ceiling, his age and lack-of-experience seems to invite talk of a big learning curve. Now, that’s not necessarily something the Bulls are desperate to avoid (even if they could conceivably turn a quick corner, anyone not named Zion wasn’t going to immediately end this rebuild), but I suspect most believe they can get a similar long-term play at a greater position of need elsewhere in the draft.
Indeed, a quick peak around some of the latest mocks has him going pretty unanimously behind the Bulls pick at No. 7:
- CBS: Ranked 9th
- Bleacher Report (Joe Tansey): Ranked 10th
- Basketball Insiders: Ranked 10th
- Bleacher Report (Zach Buckley): Ranked 11th
- Yahoo Sports: Ranked 13th
With all of that said, Doumbouya does have plenty of interesting qualities. While he may not be a guard, his tools and athleticism could allow him to play either forward spot, and he’s known as a “fluid athlete who loves to run the lanes in transition.” Moreover, ESPN calls him a “versatile defender who can check positions 1-4,” and claims he has more untapped skill than most defensive-minded forwards in the NBA.
Considering the Bulls issues on defense and the modern NBA-affinity for flexible/versatile players, you could do worse than an 18-year-old like Doumbouya (who doesn’t turn 19 until December!).
Obviously, that’s only half the story, though. ESPN also suggests that he doesn’t have the most natural feel for the game, calls him an irregular shooter, and claims he can be inconsistent with his energy levels. Even if you believe he might grow out of some of that as he ages, he clearly isn’t some ideal, hidden gem.
In any case, Doumbouya has become just the second first-round-caliber pick worked out by the Bulls this summer, so he deserves some attention. We still have no clue which way the team is going on June 20th, so the best we can do is read the tea leaves when they’re here, soak it in, and move on.