It's easy to see the range of reactions to the Bobcats drafting Cody Zeller are wide-ranging. With that in mind, I emailed our writers for their takes on the pick. As you'll see, they're not all in consensus over the pick either. I asked for them to summarize it in two paragraphs, though someone coughjoshcough went a little beyond.
When Ben and I realized that Nerlens Noel, Alex Len AND Ben McLemore were still on the board for the Bobcats, we were pretty excited. Then Stern read Cody Zeller's name. I face-palmed and pleaded with the air in front of me to tell me why the Bobcats chose Zeller when there were other great prospects still on the board.
Prepared to give Zeller and the Bobcats the benefit of the doubt, I watched every video of Zeller I could find (including a handful of his college games), and you know what happened? I fell in love.
Oftentimes when watching him play, I'd legitimately forget that he's 7'0". He not only looks smaller than he is, but he moves like a player several inches shorter. I've also seen him hit threes with consistency in a few videos. He's a very good fit if the Bobcats' roster stays as is.
Everything Zeller struggles with (rebounding, blocking shots), Bismack Biyombo excels at. Everything Biyombo struggles with (everything other than rebounding and blocking shots), Zeller excels at. It sounds like Steve Clifford wants to implement a Suns-like seven seconds or less offense, and Zeller is the best pick the Bobcats could have made with these things in mind. I'm ecstatic. Summer league, come quicker!
My initial reaction to the drafting of Zeller at No. 4 was one of annoyance and confusion. With McLemore and Noel still on the board, there were clearly better prospects available but I can definitely understand the selection after thinking more about his fit with this Bobcats team. Last season, the Bobcats' offensive frontcourt was abysmal so the selection of Zeller does make sense because of his ability to work in the post and spot up around the perimeter. Those perimeter skills will help in the development of Kemba as an overall offensive point guard because of the pick and roll potential he'll have with Zeller.
While it won't be considered the sexiest pick, Zeller will immediately have a role with the team in 2013-14 and should be able to help out the 26th ranked Bobcats offense.
I don't hate the fact that they picked Cody Zeller as much as I don't like where they chose him. With Zeller we know that he will be healthy for the start of the season. In fact, he's the only big out of Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, and Anthony Bennett that isn't coming off of some sort of surgery. Even Ben McLemore was on the board, who is a strong shooter but wouldn't have helped balance out the team's scoring attack. Sure, I guess they could have traded back and got him anyway, but at what cost? Would it have made more sense to give up something more just to draft the same player you could have had at four for no additional price? That's where I can understand picking him there, especially if he is their best player.
Zeller also has an excellent chance to become the Bobcats' most dynamic offensive player in the frontcourt as long as he can handle the physicality of playing against NBA big men. And that helps the team since they desperately needed a consistent source of scoring from the center position while also taking more pressure off of the guards and forwards. I've really come a long way on this pick and have grown to accept it as something that could very well turn out fine. Yet, only time will tell if this was a good pick or not, but Zeller is ours and we're going to have to make the most of it.
I really didn't like this pick. Nerlens Noel was the projected No. 1 pick for a reason and it's amazing to me that the Bobcats chose to pass over him for a guy that I don't really expect to ever improve past a bench player. Although there is nothing wrong with him being just a bench player, it's hard to think taking a bench player over a guy that is most likely going to be a starting caliber player for years to come is a good decision. This doesn't mean Zeller won't be a good player; it just means that the Bobcats didn't take the best player available.
As far as Zeller goes in fitting in with the Bobcats, I think he'll fit in well. He has a fairly complete offensive game and considering the Bobcats need a big man that can create and take some slack off the backcourt, that's a good thing. He's definitely going to need to improve his strength, but that won't be a problem as every player that enters the NBA gets much bigger than they were in college. His best attribute to the Bobcats will be his speed and conditioning. The team has the potential to be very fast and Zeller is pretty quick for a big man. Being able to get down the court faster than the other big guys will be a big help for a team that will probably look to run on offense.
The selection of Cody Zeller was a surprise more for who was left on the board at the time than the actual selection itself. Sure, Zeller at four was a bit of a stretch no matter what but that fact that Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, and Ben McLemore were also available only amplified it. And even though experts have spent the last month telling us there is no surefire superstar player in this draft, and maybe not even an All-Star, that hasn't stopped any of them from bashing the Bobcats' selection. I get it. It's easy to bash the Bobcats and apparently it's fun to slam Michael Jordan. But I also like the fact that the Bobcats really liked Zeller and they took him, especially in this draft.
If they couldn't find a trade partner -- and I'm guessing they couldn't -- or they were afraid Zeller would be gone, then by all means grab him with that pick. It's your pick. And for this team it makes sense. The frontcourt is obviously an area of need and Zeller might just be the best offensive big man in the draft. He certainly was at that point, with Anthony Bennett gone. Noel obviously scared people off with concerns about the knee, and likewise all the bad buzz surrounding McLemore resulted in him sliding all the way to No. 7. Len is hardly a proven commodity so the Bobcats opted to grab someone they can start right away and hopefully develop under the tutelage of new assistant coach Patrick Ewing. He runs like the wind, and I'm sure the thinking is they can hide his defensive shortcomings with Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It's not the sexy pick some fans may have wanted but I just can't hate it.