I can easily say I did see this coming. I scouted most of the lottery picks for the 2013 NBA Draft, and based on the needs of the Charlotte Bobcats, I predicted they would draft a big man (tough prediction, right?), but more importantly, I had my eyes on Zeller is the pick all along.
But enough about tooting my horn. How’s about we toot the horn of the Bobcats?
Yes, Charlotte faithful, I’m very pleased with what the team has done in this draft.
It’s pretty simple. They have two big men who are one-dimensional, and lack any real inside offensive prowess. Cody Zeller can give them that.
Zeller isn’t a defensive stopper or an elite scorer at the next level. He’s just rock solid all the way around. Despite an under-whelming NCAA tournament, Zeller lifted his stock with a hell of a showing at the NBA Combine. He clearly has the size and athleticism to play either center or power forward in the NBA, and still has a solid ceiling, as well.
Some Charlotte fans and analysts will question how the Bobcats selected Zeller with Nerlens Noel and Alex Len still on the board, and I can’t knock them for asking that question. After all, Noel was the best defensive-stopper in this draft class, and Len was the top center prospect in terms of sheer upside.
Personally, I didn’t love Noel. He was way too one-dimensional and would basically just be another Bismack Biyombo. Charlotte already has a guy who only excels on defense, and with him still being so young, it only makes sense to keep working with that investment.
Len was a tough one to pass on, but also like Noel, he isn’t 100% following an injury. But had the Bobcats looked past the injury, I doubt Charlotte fans would have been upset about getting his size, fluidity and offense ability around the basket. He’s simply one of the most natural, athletic centers around, and would have been nice to have.
With that said, I still like the Zeller pick and think it’s probably the right pick.
Zeller might not have Len’s crazy upside or Noel’s defensive presence, but he still has a high ceiling in his own right, and can also handle his own on defense. In addition, he has few actual flaws to his game, and has a more NBA-ready game right now than either Len or Noel.
When it’s all said and done, all three guys will likely make a solid impact on the NBA in the next few years, but I can see Zeller making his the soonest. He has a great chance at stepping up into the starting lineup from day one, making Byron Mullens a full-time bench scorer (probably the best role for him), and helping to make the Bobcats a more complete team.
Zeller makes Charlotte fundamentally stronger, and with him manning the middle, they now just need to build around him with some shooters and solid help-defenders. That’s always easier said than done, but I truly believe Zeller was a great pick and was probably the best selection for Charlotte to start improving starting next season.