#1: Isaia Cordinier
Isaia is an elite athlete with a great head on his shoulders.
He’s a french player who has yet to compete on American soil but admits he has dreamed about the NBA since he was a kid. At just 19 years old he has lots of room to grow and has the tools to become someone special.
There first thing to note about Cordinier is his speed and vertical ability. When he breaks into a full sprint nobody on the floor can keep up with him. This could make him a valuable player for the Pelicans, who want to take advantage of playing in transition as much as possible.
It also means we’ll get to witness a few nasty dunks on some unsuspecting defenders.
He’s raw defensively, but effort isn’t the issue. He competes hard to stop his man and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body, but he can get jumpy on pump-fakes from more experienced offensive players. He also managed to average 2.3 steals per 40 minutes due to his commitment to playing passing lanes.
He isn’t a great passer yet, but he has shown that he wants to be. He actively probes the floor when he has the ball and jumps at any chance to get his teammates involved. He struggles with ball-handling and he can’t run a pick and roll, but he could become a solid passer in transition after a few years in the league.
The second major thing to note about Cordinier is his fantastic shooting ability. The sample size isn’t great, but he shot 53% from deep with a 65% TS% this past season despite his unorthodox set-shot.
His major weakness is his size. His height (6’5″) and wingspan (6’8″) are solid but he weighs just 177 lbs and will get bullied and bruised by physically imposing NBA veterans. He needs to put on a solid 25 lbs before he can begin to contribute, so stashing him away for one more season might be the best option if the Pelicans are thinking long-term.
Despite weighing as much as a high school junior, Cordinier managed to average 19.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per 40 minutes and improved as his season went on. Obviously we can’t expect those same stats in the NBA, but it’s a sign that he make use of whatever time he gets.
The reason Cordinier screams “steal” is that his weaknesses are almost all temporary.
Some players are dumb, short, or slow, which are weaknesses a player will never be able to fix. Cordinier has all the natural tools, he simply needs to polish them and gain some experience. He has shooting ability, athleticism, and a great work ethic. His weaknesses (weight, experience, ball-handling) are all things he can fix by lifting a few weights and paying attention during film sessions.
Cordinier has struggled to communicate with some teammates due to a language barrier. Regardless, he makes a point of giving everyone a high-five and a pat on the back. That’s the kind of player he is, someone who doesn’t make excuses when he can work harder to find a solution.
The Pelicans will be lucky if Cordinier is available at 39. He’s a project, but he’s a project worth taking on.
There’s always one star who falls to the 2nd round, Cordinier just might be that star……