Bilal Coulibaly Has Been A Bright Spot For Wizards

Bilal Coulibaly, Wizards, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

There hasn’t been much to get excited about when it comes to the Washington Wizards during the 2023-24 NBA regular season. They are 4-22 on the season, tied for the second-fewest wins in the league with the San Antonio Spurs. Only the Detroit Pistons, who are riding a 24-game losing streak, are currently worse.

Their two leading scorers, Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole, are the least-productive duo in the NBA, which has led to lackluster results on the court. Many analysts thought it would be a long season in Washington, but not even the most pessimistic of people thought it would be this bad.

However, despite all of the negativity that is surrounding the team, there is one bright spot that has shone through. That is rookie forward, Bilal Coulibaly. Coulibaly has been a regular in the team’s rotation, playing 26.9 minutes per game in 25 appearances with one start.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Bilal Coulibaly & Washington Wizards Updates

In December, he has seen his role with the team increase. He is playing 28.8 minutes per game and averaging 12.5 points per game. That is an impressive scoring average when taking into consideration that he doesn’t have the ball in his hands too often with a usage rate of 16.6. But, he makes the most of his opportunities with elite efficiency.

“…In the month of December, Coulibaly ranks fourth on the Wizards in minutes (28.2), averaging 12.7 points on 57.6% from the field. He is shooting an eye-popping 85.7% on shots within eight feet. Despite a low 14.1% usage rate, Coulibaly is one of two rookies averaging 50% from the field and 40% on 3-pointers among players with at least 75 shots,” wrote Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Where Coulibably is really making an impact is on the defensive side of the ball. The Wizards are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, thanks in large part to Kuzma and Poole, but Coulibaly can help turn that around.

Per Cleaning The Glass, via Marks, he is in the 86th percentile when it comes to defensive rebounding and steals. Kevin Pelton of ESPN is in agreement, as he is blowing away his peers as a 3-and-D contributor during his rookie season.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Bilal Coulibaly & Washington Wizards Updates

Expect the Wizards to continue putting more on Coulibaly’s plate as the season moves along. Already contributing as a two-way wing player, he is going to start having the ball in his hands more and more. That will lead to more opportunities to score, as his usage rate is on the rise in December compared to October and November.

Washington took a bit of a risk selecting Coulibaly at No. 7 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft. But, they have been rewarded for the risk thus far, as he is already advancing in his development. That is not something many teams can say about their current rookies as Coulibaly has been a bright spot in an ugly season in the nation’s capital.

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