Bilal Coulibaly shows more as play-maker in Wizards' loss to Spurs originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Though the Wizards fell to the Spurs in their third Summer League game on Tuesday night, dropping them to 1-2 in Las Vegas, the more they play the more it is becoming clear this is a more talented roster than the one Washington brought to the desert last summer. Bilal Coulibaly remains a positive, as does Tristan Vukcevic. And others are starting to shine through the more they get comfortable with their new teammates.
The Wizards played San Antonio minus No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama, who was shut down by the Spurs the day before, ending his stint in the Summer League. Still, they got a good test against a Spurs team that features a host of recent draft picks.
We saw a little more of Coulibaly handling the ball in this one, both in the halfcourt running the offense and in transition. His speed in the open court really stood out. He showed that in the first two games without the ball, this time it was while dribbling, usually with his right hand. He had a nice play in the first quarter where he drove right and finished with a floater off the glass.
"I thought he actually did pretty well trying to handle the point guard spot tonight," head coach Landon Tatum said. "He had a lot of times where the ball was in his hands and he did a solid job of trying to attack and create for others. We got to see a little bit of his game because he still also played defense for us. I think that's what I like the most about him. When you get the ball in his hands, he's not trying to play one side of the floor."
Coulibaly also made a pull-up three from the wing. Coulibaly's three-point shooting may take some time before he's a consistent outside threat. He's had a few airballs in these games where he shot it over the hoop too strong. But his pull-up three was smooth and in the morning he was draining outside shots in drills with his teammates at the end of their shootaround.
Some of Coulibaly's blocks in this game were highlight worthy. He had another chasedown block, which has been a trend in the Summer League so far, as well as a rejection at the rim which was a great example of his length. As 2022 first round pick Malaki Branham drove right, Coulibaly held his arms up and then tapped the ball away with perfect timing as Branham tried to shoot a floater over him. Coulibaly had 10 points (3-8 FG), six rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. He can fill up the box score.
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└📁 Bilal Coulibaly blocks pic.twitter.com/fB53g395l4
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Rollins standing out
Ryan Rollins is doing about as good a job as anyone on the Wizards roster of taking advantage of the opportunity that Summer League presents. He continues to have strong performances on both ends of the floor. In this one he had 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks, a well-rounded stat-line. He was excellent getting to the rim and finishing with contact.
"Ryan's ability to get into the paint, find people and use his length to finish has been really good for us," Tatum said.
On defense, he forced the issue with physical play on the perimeter, regularly creating a wall with his strong upper body and quick feet to stay in front of ball-handlers. Rollins is not afraid to do the dirty work and you can see it on his face. He is sporting a black eye and a bruise on his forehead. Hockey players would be impressed with his toughess and pain tolerance. What makes it even more noteworthy is he's big for a point guard, at 6-foot-4 with a strong build and a 6-foot-10 wingspan. You can see how he could be overwhelming against smaller point guards, as he not only has a size advantage but also initiates contact.
Vukcevic didn't have the same overall impact he did in the win over the Celtics on Sunday, but he did have his best play of the Summer League so far. It was a smooth stepback three at the top of the key that does not seem like a normal thing for a 7-footer to do, even in this day and age.
That didn't look like a guy trying out a new move just to see if it would work, it looked very natural. He executed it perfectly with a crossover to set it up. If you want to get a sense of the offensive potential Vukcevic has, that play said it all. Vukcevic had nine points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks for the game.
Alexander making plays
The Miami Heat are famous for finding gems in undrafted players, as evidenced by their NBA Finals run that featured the likes of Duncan Robinson, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent. Big man Kyle Alexander was recently in their pipeline after going undrafted out of Tennessee and is now on the Wizards' Summer League roster. You can see why the Heat gave him a chance, as he's a 6-foot-11 athlete who plays with active energy on both ends and he flashes a solid feel for the game.
There was a sequence in the second quarter that demonstrated it well. He skied above the Spurs for a rebound. Not long after he slipped a pocket pass from the perimeter to a cutting teammate. And on the very next play he had an emphatic block on Branham. Alexander had five points, four rebounds and two blocks in only 13 minutes.