“Situational Analysis” is a series of articles that seeks to examine the circumstances that most often influence an NBA prospect’s success. Each player will be scored on a scale from 1-10 in four different categories: NBA-specific skill(s), flaw(s), collegiate/overseas/pre-NBA environment, and ideal NBA ecosystem.

Bilal Coulibaly is an 18-year-old (19 in a month or so) wing from Courbevoie, France, who averaged 18.1 minutes, 5.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game for Metropolitans 92. He is expected to be selected in the middle of the first round in this year’s draft. NBADraft.net currently has him projected at No. 9.

NBA-Specific Skills

The sky is the limit for Bilal Coulibaly. Don’t believe me? Just listen to this guy talk about him.

There are a million different reasons why it’s beneficial to call Victor Wembanyama your teammate, but Coulibaly has taken advantage of the extra attention on the Metropolitans 92 to show scouts that Wemby isn’t the only future NBA player on this squad.

Coulibaly is one of the draft’s fastest risers. He was a borderline first-round prospect before the year, and now it seems as if he won’t fall outside of the lottery. Standing 6-7 with an incredible 7-3 wingspan, it’s clear that Coulibaly looks the part of a lockdown NBA defender.

Coulibaly is already adept at moving his feet and navigating switches. He can jump passing lanes and contribute as a weakside rim protector. It’s easy to envision Coulibaly eventually becoming a fixture on the All-NBA defensive squads.

He is one of the draft’s best pure athletes – a run-and-jump dynamo who can wreak havoc filling the lane in transition. He prefers to play above the rim, and he uses an explosive first step to get there. He shows good court sense and should develop into a devastating off-ball cutter.

Coulibaly has also shown a little bit of spot-up shooting ability and occasional secondary playmaking skills, which could elevate his NBA prospects beyond “defensive-minded role player.” However, at this stage of his development, defense will clearly be Coulibaly’s calling card.

On a scale from 1-10, Coulibaly’s upside – particularly on defense – rates at a 9.


Calling his offensive game “raw” would be an understatement.

Coulibaly is not going to hunt for his own shot, because if he did, odds are it wouldn’t go in. His ballhandling skills need work, particularly his left hand. His shooting mechanics often change from jumper to jumper, particularly in the midrange.

He is not a high-volume shooter at this stage, and it’s unclear whether he will ever be an efficient shooter. Even though he connected on nearly half of his 3-point attempts this past season (14-31), his subpar free throw numbers (a hair under 60% for a wing) are not encouraging.

All of this is to be expected from a “late bloomer” prospect, but if Coulibaly’s offensive fundamentals plateau at this level, it will hinder his ability to see enough playing time to allow his defensive skills to shine.

He will bulk up as he gets older, but it will be important for him to keep his quickness intact as he gets stronger.

On a scale from 1 (not a concern) to 10 (serious hindrance), Coulibaly’s offensive limitations rate at an 8.5.

Pre-NBA Setting

Coulibaly made a name for himself early in the French youth leagues, but he didn’t explode onto the international scene until a late growth spurt took him from 5-11 to 6-6.

Fortunately, Coulibaly’s quickness and athleticism grew along with his height. He dominated on Metro 92’s under-21 squad until it was clear that he belonged on the senior team alongside Wemby.

Even then, it seemed as if Coulibaly’s best-case scenario for entering the NBA draft would be in 2024, but his growth curve has been undeniable. He seems to overshoot expectations each time scouts lay eyes on him.

On a scale of 1-10, Coulibaly’s pre-NBA career rates at an 8.5 – thanks in large part to how he has capitalized on the extra attention in French youth basketball over the last handful of years.

Ideal NBA Ecosystem

This will be interesting. Coulibaly is not a plug-and-play rookie – at least not right away. He will need a franchise that specializes in developing unique wing prospects.

Given those circumstances, the Toronto Raptors seem almost too obvious at pick No. 13 (or trading up a few spots). Masai Ujiri has made a living on drafting raw, ultra-athletic wings and figuring out the rest later. The Raptors already have a lot of duplication in this area, although they have been shopping some of those players (Anunoby and Siakam) and trades appear imminent. This franchise’s track record in developing similar players is unimpeachable.

Utah has a pair of picks in the middle of round 1, and this is precisely the kind of squad that could take a flier on Coulibaly’s upside and hope he develops into the lockdown wing presence that would complement Lauri Markkanen and this exciting young Jazz core.

Oklahoma City loves to roll the dice on high-upside prospects, and at pick 12, the Thunder could look to add another long, athletic wing to their stable of under-24 athletic marvels.

On a scale from 1-10, Coulibaly’s situational dependence is a 9. It might not translate immediately, but Coulibaly’s defensive upside and undeniable athleticism could turn him into an ideal role player on a playoff-minded squad.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.