NBA Draft Scouting: Bilal Coulibaly
Coulibaly's recent performances for Metropolitans 92 have rocketed Bilal into the first round
Height - 6’7
Weight - 190 lbs
Wingspan - 7’3
The 2023 Draft Cycle has largely been defined by one player, Victor Wembanyama and one team, Metropolitans 92. Wembanyama will be the first pick in the Draft and the foundation of a gleaming Spurs’ future. His draft stock is vindication of the faith and trust that Wembanyama placed in Metropolitans 92’s culture of development.
In July 2022, Victor took the decision to leave ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne for the Parisian club. It was a bold decision at the time, ASVEL are a French powerhouse and are currently owned by Tony Parker, the former San Antonio Spurs’ point guard. Metropolitans 92 did not boast a storied history but they had an excellent coach in Vincent Collet and an exciting young roster. Wembanyama joined Metropolitans 92 and the team has grown to new heights.
Metropolitans 92 are in the LNB Pro A Finals for the first time since 2009 and will play AS Monaco Basket for the championship. Amidst Wembanyama-mania, Bilal Coulibaly has emerged as an elite-level prospect and as a clear lottery talent.
Coulibaly was a relative unknown until last summer where strong showings at the FIBA U-18 European Championships put him on the map. Bilal’s stock grew even more after a good performance against Bronny James and the California Basketball Club in an August exhibition game.
At the time, his summer of basketball was viewed to be a good marker in his development as a player. Nobody quite thought that Coulibaly would be ready for the NBA Draft just a year later.
He started the season out of Coach Collet’s rotation and is now a regular, reliable contributor for Mets 92. For the playoffs, Coulibaly is averaging 27 minutes per game and has become a valued piece of the puzzle.
At the age of 18 years old, Coulibaly has earned his way into rotation minutes on a team that is contending for a championship. It is no small feat and he deserves a lot of respect for his achievement. LNB Pro A is arguably the third best league in European basketball and most teams boast at least one former NBA player on their roster. The level of competition is very strong.
Coach Collet has taken the decision to play Coulibaly more minutes because of his defense and confident inside scoring. Our colleagues at No Ceilings have written extensively about Bilal and I would highly recommend checking out their work.
Coulibaly’s inside scoring is the best aspect of his game. Bilal is a quick, bouncy athlete who possesses a lot of vertical pop at the rim. His combination of pace and long, loping strides allow him to evade defenders by simply turning the corner. His handle is still quite raw but that has not mattered so far, Bilal has just been able to outrun the defense.
Coulibaly accelerates quickly and leaves the defense in the dust whenever he slashes to the basket. Once he gets into the painted area, the craft and polish in his game becomes evident. Bilal’s jump-stop allows him to decelerate at a moment’s notice and throw off any defensive attention. Once the defender has flown by and is out of good guarding position, Coulibaly finishes off the layup.
Bilal has other tools in his bag to shake off the defense. Coulibaly’s euro-step is precise and he regularly uses this move to bypass the defense for an easy reverse layup at the hole. On his euro-step finishes, Coulibaly will drive at full speed and then slow the tempo all the way down when he sidesteps the defense.
Coulibaly is also aggressive finishing above the rim. Bilal will use his explosiveness to jump over help defenders who have rotated middle and put them on a poster. There is a mean streak in his game that I really like, Bilal wants to finish strong all the time and intimidate the opposing team.
Bilal’s understanding of space is as good as I have seen in any prospect in the 2023 Draft Class and would go a long way to explain his impact off the ball. Coulibaly is a very good cutter and is very good at finding holes in the opposing team’s defense. Wembanyama would go in the post, three defenders would converge and Coulibaly would cut middle for an easy dunk at the rim.
His backdoor cuts are the best example of Coulibaly understanding space. Metropolitans 92 would frequently run a screen action up top involving Devante Jones and Victor Wembanyama. The opposing team would step up to the level of screen to squeeze the floor and crowd the passing lane.
At this point in the play, Coulibaly would start his movement to the basket. Once he escapes the defender’s sight-line, Coulibaly pounces and cuts back-door for an easy finish. Devante Jones’s passing was quite varied and he liked to feed Bilal lob passes on these cuts to introduce a vertical threat into the action.