Stronger and More Experienced, Petr Cornelie is 'Ready' to Take His Game to NBA

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

Readiness is not just a state of mind, it’s a state of body. Center Petr Cornelie is the latest example of it.

“The number one thing with him is he looks bigger,” Nuggets summer league coach, Jordi Fernandez said. “When I saw him the first day I was like, ‘Look, Petr looks like a man now.’”

And it’s allowing him to play like one.

If the first two days of Nuggets summer league mini-camp are any indication, this is a vastly different Cornelie than took the court last summer. He said he is about “five kilos” heavier than a year ago. That translates to a little more than 11 pounds of size added to his 6-foot-11 frame.

“A big part of my game is being not soft,” Cornelie said. “Right now, I’m feeling really good about this. I’m feeling more confident, obviously. We worked on my legs, that was the biggest work. So, I feel really balanced.”

Cornelie, a Nuggets second-round draft choice in 2016, played last season for Levallois Metropolitans of the LNB Pro A League in France where he averaged 5.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 19 games after returning from injury. He shot 46.8 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line.

“I was in Paris and was out two-to-three months because I injured my foot,” Cornelie said. “When I came back, I came back good because I had been lifting. So, I came back feeling good. It wasn’t easy, but it was pretty good.”

And now, back with the Nuggets summer league team for the third time, he’s more comfortable than ever before.

“I’m feeling way better than last year and the year before,” Cornelie said. “It’s like the first time you get in a game, a real pro game, you get (nervous). You don’t know what’s happening. Experience, right now I know how it goes and I feel more confident because of this and because of my last season. I feel way better entering summer league right now than the year before.”

Fernandez said he sees the difference.

“He’s been through another season in Europe,” Fernandez said. “When you’re young, you have no chance for mistakes otherwise coaches are not going to play you. It isn’t like the G League where you can go there have more minutes and make mistakes. He played with Boris Diaw in Paris. They had a pretty good team… So, he learned from a player like Boris, and playing with older guys. And now he is not making mistakes, he is communicating. You can tell he’s grown so much, so that’s why we’re excited.”

And yet the goal is to make it to the NBA.

“When I look at myself right now, I think I’m ready,” Cornelie said. “When I look at me in the past year, I was like, ‘okay, I was not ready.’ I was not ready, playing against centers that were 250 pounds, I wasn’t ready. But today I feel ready. I know how to use my game, how to bring energy to the team, and what the team likes. I feel really ready.”

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter