The Toronto Raptors may not appear to have learned from the last few seasons, as Masai Ujiri might be right back to his old tricks and ready to draft another positionless wing with an eye on internal development. This time around, the player he’s eyeing in the 2023 NBA Draft just might be French wing Bilal Coulibaly.
While everyone was watching Metropolitans 92 to get a look at No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama, Coulibaly used those showcases to show off the fact that he is a dynamic young small forward with tremendous length, defensive instincts, and versatility.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman sent multiple fanbases, Toronto included, into a frenzy yesterday, saying that a team in the lottery before pick No. 14 has made Coulibaly a promise to select him if available. Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder fans are convinced it is the, as they both love length.
The Raptors have been frequently linked to some of the best collegiate guards in the 2023 draft cycle, so going the international route for yet another wing might not satisfy large contingents of this fanbase. However, there is a very easy path to success at the NBA level for a prospect with as many positive traits as Coulibaly.
Will the Toronto Raptors draft Bilal Coulibaly?
Coulibaly only averaged five points per game, and it’s known by now that he will likely need to work on being a more aggressive and effective shooter. However, for someone playing a complementary role on a championship-level professional team at just 18 years old, he did a fairly solid job.
Coulibaly is a classic Raptors prospect, with switchability on defense and a long 7-3 wingspan serving as his two calling cards. Offensively, Coulibaly has shown he can be a solid athlete and slasher that attacks the basket when he wants to be in an aggressive mood.
Coulibaly averaged over 21 points per game with Metropolitans’ youth team, showing that he’s too good for the lower levels. The defense is good enough to get NBA minutes right away, and it will be up to whoever drafts him to make sure that he picks it up on offense.
Coulibaly is another big swing and a bet on player development, which will irk Raptors fans who want the team to add someone that can make more of an immediate impact. If he clicks, however, the Raptors might land their OG Anunoby replacement quite early in the draft process.