The Washington Wizards are entering the 2023-24 NBA season with minimal expectations. For the first time in a while, the goal isn’t to chase the playoffs. It is going to be a season of development and rebuilding. More important than the wins is how the young players are playing. And among these young players, Bilal Coulibaly is the one all eyes will be on.
The 7th overall selection in the 2023 NBA Draft, Coulibaly is not only the highest-drafted Wizard on the roster, but he also has the highest upside of anyone on the team. At the same time, he just turned 19 last week and has minimal high-level basketball experience. It will take time for him.
However, he has shown enough flashes in Las Vegas Summer League to intrigue and excite the Wizards fans. And that’s what his rookie season will be about: showing enough flashes of the player the Wizards are hoping he will become five years from now. This is what the Wizards fans should be hoping to see in Coulibaly’s rookie season.
Bilal Coulibaly was a monster on the defensive end in the Summer League, showing impressive rim protection ability. So far, that is his most NBA-ready skill. For his position, he is an excellent help defender, regularly making plays at the rim.
It would be encouraging if he is able to translate that skill to the NBA level. The thing to watch out for is his weakside rotation and being able to challenge shots without fouling. For many rookies, there is an adjustment period to the pace and space of the NBA game. There is no doubt about Coulibaly’s athleticism but how long it takes for him to adapt to the speed and talent of the NBA remains a question.
Watching his development in this area and tracking his blocks and opponent fg% at the rim throughout his rookie season will be fun.