The long-awaited NBA Draft is over and the Washington Wizards finally have their crop of young prospects.
Washington had four picks in this draft, the no.8, no.35, no.42, and no. 57.
They ended up trading the no.35 pick to the Chicago Bulls, who proceeded to select Julian Phillips, the 6’8 athletic forward from Tennessee. In return, the Wizards got two future second-round picks. Considering the uncertain roster situation the Wizards are currently in, it makes sense to delay some of the second-round picks for later years.
The Wizards also sent the no.57 pick to the Golden State Warriors, who selected Trayce Jackson-Davis. In return, Washington acquired Patrick Baldwin Jr, who was the 28th-overall pick in 2022. He has the potential to be a floor-spacing forward with good size and length.
No.8 pick: Bilal Coulibaly
This is the high-upside, big-swing pick the Wizards needed. After years of selecting ready-to-contribute older players with low ceilings, the Wizards finally swung for the fences by selecting the French swingman.
Coulibaly is a very intriguing prospect. Still only 18 years old, Coulibaly’s potential is through the roof. He has great physical tools and fantastic athleticism. He is a smooth player for his age with an arsenal of euro-steps, relentless attacking, and off-the-dribble moves. He has a good feel for the game and knows how to be in the right place at the right time, including on the defensive end.
His main weakness is his jump shot. Defenses already dare him to shoot, and he has a slow release. However, he has decent shooting mechanics and projects to be at least an average shooter.
Coulibaly is still a raw player. He thrives in transition but needs to improve his half-court offense. But fortunately for him, the Wizards have all the time and patience in the world as they aren’t trying to win any time soon. They are going to bring him along slowly but he will also have plenty of playing time and ample opportunity to get on-ball reps. This is an ideal situation for both sides.
Especially considering the fact that Anthony Black and both Thompson twins were off the board, the Wizards made the best choice possible by selecting the player with the highest upside left.
The only reason it is not an A+ is the fact that the Wizards had to trade up to no.7 to draft him, having to give up two second-round picks in the process.
No. 42 pick: Tristan Vukcevic
The 20-year-old Serbian big man has extensive professional experience in Europe already, playing for two major Euroleague clubs Real Madrid and Partizan.
He has good size as a 7-footer with a 7’2 wingspan. He doesn’t project to be a high-level athlete or an elite defender, but his feel for the game and shooting ability make him an intriguing prospect.
Who is going to be able to be even a rotation-level player in the NBA at this stage of the draft is anyone’s guess, but drafting an unathletic Serbian big man in the second round of the draft has usually worked out for teams. Let’s hope that’s the case for the Wizards as well.