Southeast Notes: Coulibaly, Rozier, Hawks Injuries, Fultz

Wizards rookie wing Bilal Coulibaly is out for the rest of the season with a wrist injury, but he left a strong impression on his teammates and coaching staff in his first year in the league, Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network writes, cementing his place as one of the franchise’s cornerstones moving forward.

Fantastic [season]. He made the Rising Stars Challenge. Going to All-Star weekend in your first year is huge,Jordan Poole told MSN. “He got a lot of playing time, a lot of experience, which is huge, especially for a rookie… he had a really good season and I’m excited for his future.

Coulibaly, 19, averaged 8.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per game while often guarding opposing star players like Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the season wore on, Hughes writes.

Interim head coach Brian Keefe raved about Coulibaly’s work ethic as he heads into his first full NBA offseason. According to Hughes, Keefe described the rookie’s maturity as “beyond his years.”

There’s still going to be growth, there’s still going to be an opportunity to learn,” teammate Anthony Gill said. “But this offseason is going to be very important for him getting stronger and understanding his body more, understanding the game and getting more confident in what he can do at a high level. It’s going to be a very important offseason for him, but I know he’s ready to attack it. We’ve already talked about it.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Terry Rozier‘s transition to the Heat hasn’t gone smoothly at times, with the ex-Hornet having endured an injury, a three-point shooting slump and the Heat’s longest losing streak since 2008. However, as The Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang writes, games like the one Rozier had on Wednesday against the Cavaliers make it all worth it. He scored nine points in the final 1:24 of the game to lead Miami to a much-needed victory. Heat players and coaches are continuing to tell Rozier to be aggressive, Chiang writes, since his usage rate and shot volume have decreased.
  • The Hawks provided injury updates for several players on Thursday. Kobe Bufkin (toe) was reevaluated Tuesday and is making progress from his toe sprain. He’ll be reevaluated again in seven-to-10 days. AJ Griffin (ankle) underwent an MRI on Wednesday, confirming a right high ankle sprain. He’ll also be reevaluated in seven-to-10 days. Jalen Johnson (ankle) left Monday’s game against the Lakers due to a right ankle sprain, and he’ll be looked at again in one week.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz continues to face obstacles in his seven-year NBA career, having gone from being touted as the final piece of Philadelphia’s “The Process” to enduring numerous injuries to being traded to Orlando, where he has become a rotation player. As The Ringer’s Nick Friedell observes, Fultz is still just 25 years old despite his long road to where he is today. “I think a lot of people forget that,” Fultz said. “And I forget it as well. And at the same time, I feel like I’m older because I’ve been through so much.” Friedell examines how Fultz is building himself into a different kind of cornerstone for the Magic.
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