The San Antonio Spurs represent global basketball at its finest. The Spurs dynasty has been built by players from nearly every continent.
A player who the Spurs should think about drafting at number 29 if available is French power forward/center Petr Cornelie.
The Spurs currently have two of the most accomplished French players of all time on their roster in Tony Parker and Boris Diaw.
Both Parker and Diaw played in the LNB Pro A, the French league that Cornelie is in right now.
Cornelie plays for a team called Le Mans Sarthe Basket, which boasts NBA player Nicolas Batum as a former member.
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Batum played on the team before jumping to the NBA, which is solid evidence of the team’s ability to produce a player who can translate into an effective NBA contributor.
Cornelie stands at 6’11’’ and weighs 220 LBS. He’s got the lineage of basketball greatness; his father played in the LNB Pro B (which is the 2nd-tier league in France), his mother was a former Czech player, and his sister played on the University of Dayton team.
Cornelie looks like a prototypical stretch 4 who possess a smooth outside jumper. He also shows athleticism on defense, and uses his quick feet and 7’1’’ wingspan to harass opponents.
Big men get exposed in today’s NBA when they aren’t able to effectively switch onto smaller players on pick-and-rolls. Cornelie won’t have this problem.
He is a terrific perimeter defender, although he lacks the strength to be able to effectively match up inside with the bruising post players in the NBA.
Cornelie will have to bulk up a little bit, but his potential is intriguing. Sharpshooting big men are always in demand in the NBA, and he’s an athletic defender on the perimeter. The Spurs look like a team that can get the most out of him.
A huge question mark with Cornelie is whether he would make the immediate jump to the NBA or stay in LNB Pro A for the next couple seasons to polish his game.
He’s raw right now, but he definitely has the tools to succeed in the NBA. The Spurs are coming off a franchise-record 67 wins. Depending on what they do in free agency, they’ll be a title contender next season even without this draft pick contributing right away.
They have the luxury to invest in a player that can end up making a huge impact down the road. Cornelie could be that guy.
The Spurs have gained the benefit of the doubt after years of successful draft picks, so whoever they chose has a great chance at succeeding in the NBA.