750 fans showed up at a Charlotte Bobcats draft party last night and were each shocked…that 749 other fans showed up at a Charlotte Bobcats draft party. No, that’s not why they were shocked—I tease. They were shocked that the Bobcats selected Cody Zeller with the fourth pick in the draft, of course. Once again, the Bobcats zigged when you thought they would zag, yinned when you thought they would yang, Aced when you thought they would’ve Based.
This feeling is understandable. Although Cody is considered the most talented of the Zeller brothers, it’s a little like calling Peter the most talented of the Brady brothers. Zeller hovered in the 7-to-12 range in most mock drafts, and was picked apart for his weak upper body, nondescript defense and rebounding, and for a slight regression from his freshman to his sophomore year. ESPN’s Chad Ford seems to have taken the move personally, using phrases like, “For the Bobcats sake, I hope Zeller proves me wrong,” as if Charlotte had just given him an invitation to a wedding at the Twins.
I’ll just say right up front that my knowledge of college basketball consists mostly of what I saw in the movie Blue Chips, so if you feel like hanging yourself with a necktie over this selection, I won’t try to stop you. But maybe I can convince you to at least use one of those gag bowties that lights up or spins around. First of all, Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus gave Zeller the 4th overall rookie ranking in terms of WARP. I don’t know about you, but absent any of my own knowledge, I am always comforted by proprietary stats that I can’t understand. Pelton then followed this up a few days later with a comparison chart, in which Zeller’s most favorable comp was LaMarcus Aldridge—I could live with that! Perhaps even more comforting was that the other closest semblances were Al Horford, Cedric Simmons, and Josh McRoberts. That lineup’s not exactly forcing me to take a cold shower, but considering a guy like Noel compared most closely with Derrick Favors, Chris Bosh, Greg Oden, and Brandon Wright, and I feel a heck of a lot safer right now.
True, Zeller looks weak. He can’t block shots, only getting 1.7/40 minutes last year, and I’m guessing many of them were just accidentally off his nose, which is roughly the size of a John Holmes erection. Also, DraftExpress’s scouting report points out his “43% shooting in the post” and his “limited jump shooting prowess” in college, which leaves me wondering how in the hell he did score. The answer, apparently, is in transition. Every single scouting report I’ve read on him marvels at his speed and his ability to “run the floor,” which he apparently does like a fleeing lab rat. Whether the Bobcats can capitalize on that is unclear, because they only had the 17th-fastest pace last year.
But what is clear is his health report, which is not the case with either Noel or Alex Len. And that’s something even the most fervent Zeller bashers can’t deny. Face it, had either Len or Noel been selected by Charlotte, we all would have spent the next ten years praying that their knees didn’t suddenly explode. And if you’re going to criticize Zeller’s lack of upper body strength, then you can’t use Noel as a counterpoint. Noel is so skinny that he’d lose an arm wrestling match to Woody Allen. And both Noel and Len are even more limited offensively than Zeller. The thought of Noel in particular sharing the offensive frontcourt with Bismack Biyombo while Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist play 2-on-5 practically gives me a concussion just by typing out this sentence.
No matter what, Zeller’s arrival probably spells the end of the road for either Byron Mullens or Josh McRoberts. For one thing, McRoberts and Mullens are free agents. For another, I think the Bobcats still need to find a true center. And finally, having all three on the same team might actually open up a rift in the tall, non-defending white guy space-time continuum. Nevertheless, I’m excited to watch Zeller run the floor in Vegas (I hear he’s good at that), hopefully in a way that compares favorably to LaMarcus Aldridge.
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