Hype or Gripe: the Wizards could select rising star from France

Bilal Coulibaly of the Metropolitan 92's dunks the ball (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Bilal Coulibaly of the Metropolitan 92's dunks the ball (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images) /

The past week has been crazy to say the least for the Washington Wizards. They said goodbye to longtime franchise cornerstone Bradley Beal, new star Kristaps Porzingis after just one year, and are preparing their farewells forfan favorite Kyle Kuzma. Yet, the NBA Draft has yet to happen and that will be the peak of the mountain for the Wiz.

The Wizards now find themselves armed with a mountain of tradable assets and cash, improving their ability to trade into a second lottery pick. This would open up numerous opportunities to take a huge swing in the draft.

If there is ever a time to take a risk in the draft, this is it. The Wizards are at the very beginning of a rebuild and have the ability to give every young player on the roster heavy usage all season long. That alone minimizes any risk taken in the draft, not to mention the fact that they have a new focus on player development in the coaching circle.

If the Wizards are willing to take big swings, then they need to take Bilal Coulibaly

One of the greatest examples of taking a big swing in the draft would be taking Bilal Coulibaly in the lottery. He is one of the rawest prospects available and has an incredible ceiling.

Even if the Wizards don’t move for an extra pick in the lottery, nobody would fault them for taking this kind of risk with the eighth pick. In fact, many fans would respect the front office for going for it.

Coulibaly is a French prospect from the Metropolitans 92. If that team sounds familiar, it’s because that is the team that featured generational prospect Victor Wembanyama who is projected to go number one overall in this year’s draft.

Known as a defensive specialist, he is capable of not only slowing, but completely stopping opposing guards and wings. His height and incredible wingspan give him the length to be one of the league’s premier defenders someday.

He is also a freak athlete, having the ability to explode towards the rim at a moment’s notice. This makes up for his questionable handle on the ball and his almost nonexistent jump shot.

Though, he only recently exploded onto the scene following a strong performance in the French League playoffs, he has started garnering comparisons to OG Anunoby and even players like Kawhi Leonard and Scottie Pippin.

He plays against tough competition in Europe and stepped his game up in the postseason, so there are few doubts regarding whether or not his athleticism will translate to the NBA. This is unlike other highly athletic wings as they are normally playing against teenagers and could falter under the increased strength of the average NBA player.

It’s clear that he has incredible potential as a basketball player, making him a potential selection anywhere after the fourth pick. He is one of the toughest players to predict in terms of draft selection and standing.

Even with the potential of Coulibaly, the Wizards should be cautious

Outside of freak athletic ability and a long frame, there isn’t much Coulibaly does on the offensive end of the floor. While he did have a fantastic playoff run that was unfortunately cut short, he doesn’t have many great games on offense.

As stated previously, his jump shot is very underdeveloped. And while it may not be the worst to ever grace the league, it could take him a few years to become a good enough three-point shooter to be a true threat from there. What makes this promising is his touch and mechanics, both of which are solid, making the trainer’s job much easier.

Even more prominent is his lack of playmaking ability. There are other similar wings who can’t find their teammates in the draft and he’s not the worst of them, but it is still a glaring hole in his game.

Combine both of those issues with his lack of a handle on the ball and he is going to really struggle to create his own shot when he first enters the league. Similar to his current role next to Wembanyama, he should probably begin his career as a complimentary piece to another young star before starting to take the center stage himself.

Verdict: worth the hype, just not worth the 8th pick

Coulibaly is more likely to become a great NBA player than not, however, I would rather use the eighth pick on a safer player like Anthony Black, Jarace Walker, or Cam Whitmore. If they trade into the 10-15 range in the draft, he would be the perfect selection for the team.

While many wish to see Bilal Coulibaly drafted by the Washington Wizards, it’s probably best if they did so by trading for an extra pick in the draft rather than use their top pick.

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