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    2023 NBA Draft Profile: Bilal Coulibaly

    Bilal Coulibaly has been climbing draft boards recently because of his intriguing youth, size, athleticism, and flashes on both ends.
    By | 19 Comments | Jun 13, 2023

    Photo by Thomas S, Wiki Commons

    While many were fawning over Victor Wembanyama, one of his teammates on Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans began to catch the eyes of NBA scouts. Bilal Coulibaly’s youth, length, athleticism, and flashes on both ends of the floor have resulted in him jumping up draft boards.

    He is currently participating in the Betclic Elite French championship series and continuing to showcase his talents. The upside is apparent, but just as there is with any home-run swing, there’s always a chance of striking out.

    Coulibaly’s build stands out right away with his reported 6’7” and absurd 7’3” wingspan. According to an insightful interview with SLAM Magazine, Coulibaly has been a part of the French youth basketball system since he was 13 and grew from 5’6” to 6’3” between the ages of 15 and 17.

    In 16 games played with the U21 Espoirs Boulogne-Levallois Mets, he averaged 21.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks while playing 32.1 minutes a night. It was all done efficiently on 53.0 percent from the field, 32.4 percent from three on 4.3 attempts per game, and 76.6 percent from the free-throw line on 6.7 attempts per game.

    He fills up the stat sheet by making an impact in a variety of ways on both ends of the court. After dominating the Under-21 league, he became a full-time contributor and member of the Mets primary team in January and never looked back.

    Let’s start with the offensive flashes Coulibaly has shown, which were primarily seen during his time with the U21 team. That competition level is a somewhat decent parallel to the college game in the United States from the aspect of playing against others who are similar in age. His long strides in the open court translate to a ridiculous top speed.

    Coulibaly will immediately be a threat in the open court. He displayed moments of self-creation, although some patience and fine-tuning will be required from himself and the organization that drafts him. His crossover goes outside the frame of his body and has shaken defenders on a few occasions, but more moves will need to be added to his bag.

    With the U21 squad, he felt more comfortable creating and taking jumpers off-the-dribble and was relatively successful at knocking them down. He shot 57.5 percent on twos, per Proballers basketball stats. His creativity in utilizing his length, fluidity, and athleticism at the rim is obvious, even if sometimes he may overcomplicate things for himself.

    He’s not one to initiate the offense every time down the floor, but more of an off-ball cutter and someone who finds his moments within the flow of the game. Especially as he adjusted to playing with and against higher levels of competition, he leaned more into impacting the game with well-timed off-ball cuts and finishes. 

    Shooting from beyond the arc is going to be a substantial swing skill for the French prospect. His aforementioned 32.4 percent on 4.3 attempts per game with the U21 team is a decent starting point, but that will need to be improved upon if he’s going to optimize his talents at the next level. With less defensive focus from the opposition and a more defined offensive role during his time with the main squad, he converted a promising 45.2 percent of his triples on 1.1 attempts per game.

    With so much variance there, it’s hard to get a good gauge for the caliber of shooter that Bilal Coulibaly is. He’s attempted about 2.3 threes per game through nine postseason games that are currently ongoing and converted just 23.8 percent.

     

    His defensive impact throughout both levels was apparent. With less offensive responsibility, he was able to devote most of his focus to impacting the game on the other end of the floor during his time alongside Webenyama and the rest of the Mets main roster.

    A 7’3” wingspan with impressive lateral quickness, discipline, and an understanding of off-ball rotations that are above his age is a baseline for a modern switchable wing/forward defender who can be sporadically assigned to guards as well. At his current weight and strength level, he should not be asked to slow down bigs, but if he puts on a substantial amount of muscle in the coming years, that could become a possibility down the line.

    His length swallows up ball handlers, restricts vision and angles to passing lanes, and causes panic. Defenders often take time to adjust to impacting the NBA game on that end, and that will certainly be the case for the currently thin Coulibaly who will not turn 19 until the end of July, but the upside is undeniable.

    Averaging 2.6 steals and 1.2 blocks with the U21 team says plenty about his defensive impact. Those numbers fell to 0.8 steals and 0.2 blocks with the main club, but those came in a fraction of the minutes played comparatively. That is where Coulibaly made his impact felt when promoted, the pairing of him and Wembanyama made life as difficult as it gets for opposing offenses every time they stepped out there.

    Many of the above clips came in the postseason semi-finals where Bilal Coulibaly has continued to strengthen his case as a prospect.

    Prior to this season, it seemed as though Coulibaly could find his name called somewhere in the 2024 NBA Draft if he continued at his rate of progression. Now, there are rumors that Coulibaly has a promise in the 2023 lottery because of the absurd flashes.

    With how raw he currently is, there is plenty of risks involved in him as a prospect. While a highlight reel makes him look like a future perennial All-Star, his lowlights slow the hype train down a bit.

    His handle is basic at the current moment, and when pressured by NBA athletes he will almost surely be uncomfortable and turnover prone early on. There was a significant difference in his comfort level and impact off-the-bounce between the U21 and the main roster.

    Three-point shooting is his most obvious and straightforward question mark, but how he finds success when he’s competing against other ridiculous athletes and builds similar to himself will be something to monitor as well.

    Whoever ends up taking Coulibaly will also have to make a decision on the ideal way for him to continue his development. Would it be beneficial for him to stay with the Mets in France and attempt to be a primary option in France with Wembanyama off to San Antonio? Maybe a team would elect that the best method is for him to get in their system now and either live with the growing pains that come with young raw talent on the NBA floor or have him get reps in the G-League.

    No matter the immediate path that is decided, Bilal Coulibaly’s age, size, athleticism, and versatile flashes make him as intriguing of an upside swing as there is after the very top of the draft. The risks involved are apparent, but it seems all but guaranteed that some team in the first round will be willing to take that gamble on June 22nd.

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    19 Comments
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    murraytant
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    June 13, 2023 5:36 pm

    One of the TKH contributors has been in love with Bilal for some months now. Kudos. Take a bow.

    He is worth any risk at 24 but he won’t fall there.
    It will take some time. He has a bit of Rodman in him.

    ArcoThunder
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    June 13, 2023 5:39 pm
    Reply to  murraytant

    I forget who that was too but I remember looking him up and watching highlights after his or hers glowing recommendation. I was 100% all in after that. He was and still is my hope for draft day.

    Trade up to get him? probably not but I’d like it!!

    Adamsite
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    Nostradumbass 14
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    Nostradumbass 14
    June 14, 2023 9:52 am
    Reply to  ArcoThunder

    comment image

    I’ve been leading that train since he was projected to be an early 2nd rounder. Sadly, with the way his stock is rising, he very likely won’t be there at #24

    murraytant
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    June 14, 2023 12:19 pm
    Reply to  Adamsite

    kudos

    Roaddog
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    June 14, 2023 1:19 am

    This was my hope for the Kings pick weeks ago. It’s not a prospect type Monte has shown an interest in, and it appears at this stage he won’t get the chance to consider him. He is a gamble for sure, but I am a sucker for some length and defense.

    nonstripedzebra
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    June 14, 2023 6:02 am

    Personally think he will go way before our pick. I would be wary as a team in the top 13, but after could see the rationale. His size bounce and speed are just really impressive. Ive seen him listed at 6’6” with a 7’2 wingspan but regardless just really incredible burst to the point of having secondary star potential. And how committed and skilled he is defensively he in theory should afford minutes. Just a disciplined disruptor in team and in isolation on that end. Moves his feet exceptionally well with great help instincts. 

    Offensively he clearly can get out on the break and elevate. Even though he’s rawer on that end his foul drawing and finishes off ball and on cuts and putbacks, I wouldnt be shocked if he found a groove early. If thats the case I could see him have a really nice development curve where he gradually introduces improving his shooting, handle and maybe self creation.

    For the Kings we would check a lot of boxes. Bigger wing defense, upside and some verticality/athleticism. I could see him be helped by our ball movement and fetch decent point totals just moving intelligently on that end. The shooting would be a worry but its also just an incredible upside pick. He is a special athlete who moves faster than his size would suggests. 

    I could see him go the Ntilikina route, but he is a better athlete and rim finisher with similar defensive traits that made Frank intriguing. Little hesitant he ever becomes a assuring ball handler and often I prefer betting on skills than intangibles but he is a tier 1 athlete with great size. And the skills are engaging in their own right.

    But again I doubt he falls below the high teens.

    Last edited 4 months ago by nonstripedzebra
    jwalker1395
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    June 14, 2023 6:30 am

    Given equal tiers of talent, I’m pro making the safe pick for someone like Murray or Jones. But Coulibaly has a Top 10 ceiling. I’d take a big swing for him in a heartbeat.

    TheGrantNapear
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    June 14, 2023 7:11 am

    Great writeup!
    Let’s be real, Bilal isn’t going to be there when we pick and MM isn’t trading into the lottery to draft him.

    TheGrantNapear
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    June 14, 2023 7:14 am

    Coach Malone is now the fourth longest tenured coach after Pop, Spo and Kerr, those are also not coincidentally the four best coaches in the NBA in most people’s opinion I imagine.
    One of Vivek’s worst moves as Owner was letting Coach Malone go.
    A Kings and Nuggets series in the playoffs next year would be insane, going into next season pre-draft and pre-FA, I can’t see a more entertaining potential matchup.
    As much as the NBA may hate it, I think NBA fans are moving past the old guard (KD, LBJ, Steph, Leonard) and into the new with these up and coming teams and new superstars.

    UpgradedToQuestionable
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    June 14, 2023 7:46 am
    Reply to  TheGrantNapear

    I wouldn’t say fans are moving past the established stars. Look at jersey sales to confirm.

    Lebron, Curry, Durant, AD, Lillard are you oldest in the top 15 with LBJ, Steph at 1 and 2, Giannis at 3, Tatum and Luka in to finish the Top 6.

    Trae and Booker in there -but so is Ja. I think that changes. No Jokic, we’ll see if that changes along with Jamal Murray. No Butler or Bam either.

    I would expect to see Minny’s Edwards climb in, but no Zion, no KAT, no Kawhi, PG-13. Wemby will likely make the Top 10 next season, just as Luka zoomed in, but we’ll see.

    And no Fox and no Ox. Yet? Small market secrets, still. That’s ok – keep winning!

    Maloofs are part of the Champion Las Vegas Golden Knights ownership group and were seen hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup last night. I am usually the forgiving sort, but that sits sour with me. And why should I even care.. that’s the better question, I suppose.

    Want2win
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    June 14, 2023 12:05 pm

    I fully endorse your hate-sourness- frustration etc. it like when I almost kicked my best friend to the curb for cheering for Stanford in baseball! I will forever hate everything about that Sam Bankman Fried Coach Taylor stealing School. Only hate for stealing coach Taylor from the hornets … but wanted to throw in San Diego n there because his parents teach there… anyway carry on and forget about my childish grievance with Stanford… I just get why it bothers you

    Hamlet1989
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    June 14, 2023 9:08 am

    This is the first I’ve see of Coulibaly, but he looks like he’s got real star potential.
    I just want to say there is no more exciting play in NBA basketball than a Davion dunk. Watch one on YouTube, and see the crowd lose their freaking minds!

    Adamsite
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    Nostradumbass 14
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    Nostradumbass 14
    June 14, 2023 9:55 am

    https://twitter.com/TheNBACentral/status/1669016481445683209

    Warriors want a high pick for Kuminga. They aren’t going to get it. I’d offer the #24 and see if it gets any traction.

    Hamlet1989
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    June 14, 2023 10:05 am
    Reply to  Adamsite

    I like it!

    jwalker1395
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    June 14, 2023 10:26 am
    Reply to  Adamsite

    You’d swap the chance at someone like Jones or Murray for Kuminga? That feels like the Warriors will be laughing at us exactly one year from now when Kuminga is an expensive benchwarmer and Jones/Murray is playing 25mpg. I was a big Kuminga fan during the draft, but he’s shown exactly nothing so far.

    Want2win
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    June 14, 2023 12:06 pm
    Reply to  jwalker1395

    FWIW I don’t think Murray makes it to 24… I think Keegan’s success might help Kris jump a few spots…I suspect he will be between 18-20

    murraytant
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    June 14, 2023 12:27 pm
    Reply to  jwalker1395

    he jumped high and dunked once. That’s more than nothing.

    murraytant
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    June 14, 2023 12:26 pm
    Reply to  Adamsite

    sort of weird. Drafted at 7? No way they get a top 15 for him. Who would do that? He is athletic but cannot get any playing time. Message there.
    I like Kris but would not draft him. And I would rather have Kris or Colby Jones than Kuminga.
    He was wasted with the duds and now is closer to a pay day.

    Milkman
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    June 15, 2023 1:44 am

    He could be like Batum you’ve got the time and money…

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