According to the Denver Nuggets themselves, as announced by President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly today, the Nuggets have signed Petr Cornelie to a two-way contract.
Cornelie, 26, is a 6’11” 220 pound big man who has spent the last several years playing professionally in France. He is a former Nuggets draft pick, selected 53rd overall during the 2016 NBA Draft that produced Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez, and Malik Beasley. Most recently, Cornelie played 34 games for Elan Bearnais of the French LNB Pro A league in 2021. In 28.9 minutes per game (a high number for international play), Cornelie averaged 14.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 54.0% from the field and 44.2% from three.
Cornelie is a sweet shooting big man who has maintained a 38.7% three-point shooting efficiency throughout his international career. In the highlight package below, Cornelie also shows some above-the-rim athleticism with some of the rebounds and dunks he has put down. Though he isn’t much of a rim protector, he showed the ability and timing to rotate from the weak side defensively and block some shots.
The league where Cornelie played wasn’t the strongest internationally (Fran Fraschilla of ESPN ranked the French LNB Pro A league the seventh strongest internal league outside of the NBA) but Cornelie still put together a very strong season for Elan Bearnais this past year, his first since EuroCup in 2016 to exceed 20+ minutes per game. LNB Pro A has produced a variety of French stars in the past, from Tony Parker and Evan Fournier to Boris Diaw and Rudy Gobert. It’s certainly possible for NBA stars to emerge.
That doesn’t mean the Nuggets are expecting Cornelie to become a star. At 26 years old and on a two-way contract, the Nuggets will be hoping for Cornelie to bring some stability to their frontcourt rotation in the event that younger guys aren’t ready for additional minutes. The Nuggets re-signed JaMychal Green and brought in Jeff Green to play most of the backup frontcourt minutes, but there will be opportunities for center minutes as well. Cornelie, though only listed at 220 pounds, played a lot of center during this past season with Elan Bernais. Perhaps he can fill a similar reserve role in Denver behind Nikola Jokić.
Now, the Nuggets have 17 players on their roster entering training camp later this month. The maximum for training camp is 20, but it appears that the Nuggets will be sticking with the 17 players that will be on the roster heading into the 2021-22 season.
Congratulations to Petr Cornelie for making the jump to the NBA and taking a chance on himself. Here’s to betting on yourself. We all hope it pays off.