Cody Zeller didn’t feel like the right man for the job on the night of the 2013 NBA Draft when the Charlotte Bobcats selected him with the fourth overall pick. With Nerlens Noel falling in the draft, Charlotte had the opportunity to draft the high-upside big man, but chose to roll with Zeller instead.
However, in the month and a half since the draft, Zeller has continued to do all of the right things and has really made an impression about what he could possibly bring to the Bobcats in the upcoming season and in the future. In fact, Zeller has made believers out of a lot of people who hated the pick at the time of the draft, me included.
At the Las Vegas Summer League, Zeller looked fantastic. In four games he averaged 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.8 blocks in 32 minutes per game while shooting a reliable 52 percent from the floor. Not only was he productive, but he showed great activity, great instincts and great footwork on both ends of the floor in his first taste of an NBA environment.
After his performance at Summer League, the question has to be asked about what he is going to bring to the table in Charlotte this season. Playing with Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, he’s going to be the third option at best with the Bobcats. However, that doesn’t mean that he still can’t be productive this season.
When you get down to it, Zeller could put himself in the running to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year this season. Guys like Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, Otto Porter and Ben McLemore are all going to be given opportunities, but Oladipo is the only one of those players that looked as NBA-ready this summer.
Zeller can impact games on the offensive end of the floor and on the boards, two areas where voters look in terms of this award. With Oladipo in the mix, it’s hard to call Zeller the favorite to win Rookie of the Year right now, but he’s definitely near the top of that list.