On Thursday night during the 2013 NBA Draft, everything fell into place for the Charlotte Bobcats. After the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked everyone by selecting Anthony Bennett first overall, the stars had aligned for the Bobcats to select the player with the highest upside in the draft, Nerlens Noel.
In typical Bobcats fashion, they blew it.
With the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats selected Cody Zeller. Zeller is a big man out of Indiana who can be a nice offensive player, particularly in the pick-and-roll. However, that’s not a good enough reason to pick him at four.
Considering that Noel, Ben McLemore and even Alex Len were still on the board, considering that they reached to pick Zeller when they could have traded down, and considering that Zeller has limited upside, this was a severely misguided and botched selection by Charlotte.
When the selection was made, Bobcats fans had to almost unanimously groan. Not only was it an awful pick that hinders Charlotte in a multitude of ways, but it was also just another chapter in the long, storied and infamous history of the Bobcats royally fouling up when it comes to the draft.
It all began in 2004 when the Bobcats had the second overall pick in the draft. With that pick they selected Emeka Okafor out of UConn. Many people were high on Okafor because of his defensive ability along with his ability to score and thought he had the makings of a superstar. After a productive rookie season in Charlotte, Okafor never averaged more than 14.4 points per game and became a role player before leaving the Bobcats in 2009.
In 2005, Charlotte had two first round picks, the fifth and 13th overall selections. They selected a pair of players from North Carolina as Raymond Felton and Sean May were brought to Charlotte. Felton never really became the star point guard they had hoped, and May played about like you would expect a 6’9”, overweight center to play. Both are no longer with the Bobcats and May is out of the league.
The worst of their picks, which is saying a lot, may have come in 2006 when the Bobcats selected Adam Morrison with the third overall pick. Morrison was an elite scorer in college, but most people had their doubts about him as a pro. The doubters were, in fact, correct as Morrison shot just 37.3 percent from the field in a season and a half with Charlotte before being traded. He’s also now out of the league.
Charlotte had the eighth and 22nd picks in the 2007 draft where they selected Brandan Wright and Jared Dudley, respectively. Wright was immediately traded for Jason Richardson and Dudley was traded after just a season and a half, despite not getting much opportunity. He’s now and effective role player for the Phoenix Suns. Wright is a backup center and Richardson went to Phoenix with Dudley, also despite being productive in Charlotte.
2008 brought in D.J. Augustin and Alexis Ajinca with the ninth and 20th picks. Augustin never looked the part of a lottery pick, and Ajinca played in just 71 career NBA games and only 37 with Charlotte.
With no picks in the 2010 draft, the 12th pick in 2009 draft and the ninth pick in 2011 draft weren’t awful for Charlotte. They added Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker, both of whom have been the best players for Charlotte over the past two seasons, for whatever that’s worth.
However, in 2011 they absolutely bombed with the 19th pick. They originally selected Tobias Harris, but traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks for the raw Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo has yet to show any signs of being a good big man in the NBA while Harris, after he was dealt to the Orlando Magic this season, averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals on 45.3 percent shooting. He’s also still just 20 years old.
In 2012 they drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who didn’t show as much promise as they had hoped in his rookie year but could still be a defensive stopper and an attacking scorer eventually. That all leads up to the 2013 selection of Zeller.
Zeller may not be Morrison or Biyombo in terms of awful selections, but he’s not going to change the franchise. For a team consistently in the cellar like Charlotte, that’s not the pick that they need to be making.