NBA Charlotte Hornets

2013 NBA Draft: 5 Reasons Why Charlotte Bobcats Were Wrong In Selecting Cody Zeller

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Reasons Why Drafting Cody Zeller is Terrible for Charlotte Bobcats

2013 NBA Draft: 5 Reasons Drafting Cody Zeller is Terrible for Charlotte Bobcats
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The Charlotte Bobcats and the NBA Draft are like a peanut butter and ketchup sandwich at this point. They are simply two things that have never worked together and have always led to less-than-pleasing results.

Charlotte is a team whose infamous draft history includes the likes of Adam Morrison, Bismack Biyombo, D.J. Augustin and Alexis Ajinca, all of whom were selected in the first round of the draft by the Bobcats. Since their first draft as a new franchise in 2004, they have had a decisive tendency to make the wrong selections in the draft.

The Bobcats caught a bit of bad luck leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft. On the night of the Draft Lottery, it was announced that the Washington Wizards had moved into the top three, meaning that one of the three teams with the worst record in the league had dropped out of one of those top three slots. As the ill fate of the Bobcats would have it, that team was Charlotte, who ended up with the fourth pick.

However, the luck for the Bobcats changed when draft night rolled around. The Cleveland Cavaliers threw everyone a curveball with the number one overall pick as they selected Anthony Bennett instead of the expected Nerlens Noel or Alex Len.

When the first three picks had been made, the reported top three options for the Bobcats, Noel, Len and Ben McLemore, were still on the board. That didn’t stop Charlotte from reaching on the draft board to take Cody Zeller out of Indiana.

The majority of Bobcats fans were in disbelief with the selection. It wasn’t the fact that Zeller is a bad player, but more of the situation that he was taken in. In fact, Zeller actually improves the Bobcats front court offense, particularly in the pick-and-roll. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Charlotte messed this up. Here’s why.

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Noel, Len and McLemore Were Still Available

Noel, Len and McLemore Were Still Available
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Before the last couple of weeks where a lot of people started to doubt Noel as a prospect because of his injury and limited offensive game, he was figured by most people to be the number one overall pick in this draft. So when he fell to the Bobcats at the fourth pick, it was arguably the biggest gift that they had ever been given.

Even if the Bobcats decided that there was too much risk with Noel as a prospect because of his faults, that doesn’t change the fact that they had two other players available to select in McLemore and Len, that have the potential to be above average players in the future.

The thing about picking in the lottery is that there is an inherent risk with the picks. If you misstep and pick a bust, it obviously hurts your franchise. But there’s still a reason that people continually take the risk in the lottery and that’s because the juice is worth the squeeze. Obviously, Charlotte has not learned that lesson.

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Zeller’s Lack of Upside

Zeller’s Lack of Upside
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The thing about selecting prospects like Noel, Len and McLemore is the fact that the majority of their value is based off of upside. When drafting Noel, you’re expecting him to keep developing defensively while improving a great deal offensively. When drafting Len, you’re hoping that his offensive game keeps getting better and he becomes more fluid and a better defender. When drafting McLemore, you’re hoping that he matures and he can become a dominant wing scorer.

However, those scenarios are completely different when it comes to drafting Zeller. Zeller is a competent offensive big man that has nice post moves, good length and good athleticism. He’s an average defender, but it doesn’t seem like he’s going to get much better. The only real upside that he has is if he hits the weight room and gets stronger, which he desperately needs to do. Other than that, his upside is entirely too limited to be taken with the fourth pick.

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Zeller Being Selected Fourth Overall

Zeller Being Selected Fourth Overall
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You know what would have made the fact that they skipped over players like Noel, Len and McLemore to draft Zeller at least somewhat forgivable? If the Bobcats had traded down and selected Zeller where he was projected to be drafted and gotten the player they wanted, while getting some kind of assets for the trade partner to move up.

Instead, they just reached for the pick and made a poor decision. In most mock drafts, Zeller wasn’t projected to go until the 11th pick in the draft. That means that they took him a full seven picks higher than most people had him projected. Though there’s no way to tell, it’s unlikely that people were chomping at the bit to take Zeller. However, teams likely would have bit at the idea of moving up to number four in the draft.

Maybe the Bobcats were trying to trade the pick, but no information like that has come out yet. As of right now, it seems like they reached for a guy that has limited upside and made a bad decision in doing so.

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Positioning for the 2014 NBA Draft

Positioning for the 2014 NBA Draft
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By all accounts, the 2014 NBA Draft is going to be one for the ages. With Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and company entering the ranks of the NBA, there is going to be a huge influx of talent coming from the draft next year, which makes the high lottery picks in next year’s draft extremely valuable.

That’s one of the things that makes the Zeller pick even more insufferable. No matter who the Bobcats drafted this year, even if Noel is amazing, they aren’t going to be a team that makes the playoffs or anything. However, if they had drafted Noel, they could have sat him out for a long chunk of the season with his injury and then developed him at the end of the year.

By selecting Zeller, they are going to improve their team offensively, likely to the point that it puts them in the 27-30 win range. You know what that effectively does? It puts the Bobcats in the mid-lottery of next year’s draft. There will still be talent, but not potential franchise changing talent like Wiggins.

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Perception of the Franchise

Perception of the Franchise
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This is something that hasn’t been discussed when it comes to the Zeller pick, but feels like it needs to be. Many NBA fans and non NBA fans alike perceive Charlotte as an organization with a poorly run front office, a tendency to be extremely unlucky and the team that always makes the wrong decision.

Nabbing Zeller with the fourth pick only serves to further that.

This is a team that is trying to turn over a new leaf, rebuild and rebrand itself in the near future. They are in the process of changing their nickname to the old Hornets moniker that once belonged to Charlotte and they have brought in guys like Rich Cho, who apparently has a vision for changing this franchise for the better.

However, all of that mixed with picking a center that needs to bulk up and has limited upside when you’ve got the player with the highest upside in the draft being handed to you, makes absolutely no sense. This is the type of move that causes franchises to be perpetually bad or to plateau. It’s not the type of move that changes the course of an organization.

Another thing about that is that Noel would have given them a marketable player to sell to fans. People want to see Noel block shots and throw down lobs. It’s far less likely that they want to see Zeller get bullied in the post and hit dinky six-foot hook shots.

These are the biggest problems with the Zeller pick. They had a chance to get a guy who could become a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year and who has the tools to develop into an offensive threat. Instead, they went with a guy who will help their pick-and-roll all the way to a 27 win season.