The Washington Wizards finally have their guy. The new regime under Michael Winger and Will Dawkins made their first big draft selection by picking 18-year-old French forward Bilal Coulibaly of Metropolitans 92.
The Wizards were so confident about their selection that they moved up a spot in the draft. Initially holding the 8th pick of the draft, the Wizards feared that the teams below them would try to trade up ahead of them to select Coulibaly. Washington didn’t want to risk losing their guy, so they traded two future second-round picks to switch spots with the Indiana Pacers who had the 7th pick in the draft.
Unlike most of his fellow classmen, Coulibaly is less of a known commodity in the NBA draft circles. He had a meteoric rise in recent months to not only enter his name in this year’s draft but also climb up to the no.7 of the draft.
This is because up until the second half of this past season, Coulibaly was playing for the youth squad of Metropolitans 92. He only cracked the rotation in 2023 and became an integral part of the French League finalists.
During the regular season, he averaged 5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game. He increased his role in the playoffs, averaging 26.8 minutes per game and raising his stats to 8.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.3 steals.
It is important to note that Coulibaly was playing against grown professional men in one of the best teams in a very well-respected European league. Even the fact that he became a 2nd-option after Victor Wembanyama in the playoffs as an 18-year-old is extremely impressive.
Coulibaly is certainly not the most polished prospect. He is very early in his professional basketball journey, however, he has all the tools physically and skill-wise to be successful in the NBA.
He is a fluid athlete who runs the floor well, plays hard and creates with and without the ball. He is a smart player on both ends of the floor, making plays both as a help defender and a cutter on offense. His size, length, and body fit the modern mold of a two-way small forward.
Since Coulibaly is a raw prospect, there is a big variance in his potential development. He can be considered a low-floor and high-ceiling prospect.
Let’s take a look at what the low-end, median, and high-end outcome for Coulibaly looks like. These are different player comparisons for Coulibaly depending on his development; one comparison for his worst-case scenario, one for the realistic scenario, and one for the dream scenario.