Charlotte Picks Cody Zeller Fourth in Wild NBA Draft


Cody Zeller illustration by Mike S.

Bobcats GM Rich Cho Selects Cody Zeller

Turns out the rumors were spot on. Cody Zeller wasn’t at the top of any mock draft (at least not this year) but Rich Cho & Co worked him out, ran the numbers and made the call. And I like it.

MJ & Cho

The pick shows that MJ has given Cho carte blanche to run the team. Whether Zeller works out or not, this is massive step forward for MJ as an owner: Hire smart people, let them do their job. If not, hire even smarter people and allow them to do better ones. MJ is the greatest basketball player of all time, now it’s time to create opportunities for others to excel at their careers be it Rich Cho or the team’s next GM.

Zeller’s Skills

You may not have heard for all the uniform (or uninformed?) boos but Cody Zeller is a tremendously skilled 7-footer who is ready to step in and contribute right away. A pick ‘n pop weapon, Cody can shoot the mid-range or roll to the rim off the bounce. He’s the fastest, quickest big in the Draft and will be fantastic in the Kemba-led transition game. UPDATE: Cho, Higgins and Clifford said as much in their post-draft pressers; while Kemba Walker was apparently a big fan of the pick.

Belief in Biz

The Zeller pick also shows a ton of faith in 2011 first rounder Bismack Biyombo. The Bobcats have given up on prospects all too often throughout their history. Biz won’t turn 21 until August and exhibited a much wider array of skills in his sophomore campaign. Pairing him with a skilled big like Zeller will take a ton of pressure off Biyombo to dominate offensively. New head coach Steve Clifford and associate HC Patrick Ewing will have a lot of young talent to mold over the next couple of seasons.

Where He Ranks

Remember also that Cody Zeller would have gone Top 3 in last year’s vaunted Draft class had he declared. Zeller’s game was picked apart much like Harrison Barnes during his sophomore season. They say familiarity breeds contempt and that has been true in the Draft for a while. Nerlens Noel only managed half a season with Kentucky; fans and scouts salivated over what their imagination projected him to be next year, not who he is or will be.

McRoberts/Henderson Returning

I’d imagine the Zeller selection only helps the team’s decision to bring back another Indiana-born and raised big man: Josh McRoberts. McBob played great for the Cats after coming over from Orlando at the trade deadline and should come somewhat reasonably priced. Josh does a lot of the same things Zeller can and will aid in Cody’s transition to starter.

Additionally, the pick can only mean good things for Gerald Henderson fans. By passing on Kansas guard Ben McLemore, Charlotte has to fill the SG spot by either re-signing Hendo or bringing in someone else via free agency. Bank on Gerald coming back. UPDATE: The team announced earlier today that Henderson would be extended his qualifying offer, while Byron Mullens would not. This opens the door for both Henderson and McRoberts to return next season. We’ll know for certain once the free agency period begins in couple of weeks.

Humphries Trade Rumor

UPDATE:’s Chris Mannix tweeted after the Boston/Brooklyn mega-swap that PF Kris Humphries could be re-routed to Charlotte. A proposed Ben Gordon for Humphries trade was rumored during February’s deadline. There are a few over-priced veterans entering expiring years floating around the league so a Hump/Gordon swap could be expanded into a three team deal to include others (Danny Granger for example). Keep a look out for this one. A hard-nosed, down and dirty rebounder, Humphries could be the perfect complement to both Zeller/McRoberts when Biyombo is out of the game.

twitter: @baselinebuzz

Here’s What Baseline Readers Thought Before the Draft:

POLL : What to Do with the 4th Draft Pick?

  • Alex Len (29%, 33 Votes)
  • Anthony Bennett (37%, 42 Votes)
  • Cody Zeller (11%, 13 Votes)
  • Trey Burke (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Trade the Pick (23%, 26 Votes)

Total Voters: 115

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6 thoughts on “Charlotte Picks Cody Zeller Fourth in Wild NBA Draft

  1. chris in union county

    The Ewing influence was huge tonight. A Big who can score, run and is healthy. He will solid 10 yr player in the NBA and should do pretty much what Okafor did here during his tenure.

    • Leroy

      I was about to say too…turn Cody Zeller into something like Patrick Ewing will be big for the bobcats. nothing better than being coach by Ewing himself along with Steve Clifford!

      • Draft pundits don’t like being wrong about their mocks so will rip Cats for taking Zeller early yet this time last year Cody was rated by the same guys as a Top 3 player in a much stronger draft. Also, Ewing and Clifford will have plenty to work with immediately – unlike Noel/Len, Zeller is healthy enough to go in the Summer League. Nice beginning to a big offseason.

  2. Let’s simmer on the Cody Zeller = Patrick Ewing talk. This kid seems to have the right skills, coaching experience, athleticism and basketball fundamentals to build on. Not sure he’s an All-Star. That’s probably what was lacking in some of the other big men available to Charlotte at #4.

    The Bobcats are in an odd state where they’ve a reputation of screwing up talent selection AND talent development. Great teams get the most out of their talent, and Charlotte seems to do well if they just avoid shooting themselves in the foot. Hopefully, Zeller’s good enough that they can’t screw him up.

    Charlotte currently has a ridiculously athletic big man that they have to teach to become a basketball player (Bismack Biyombo). So, Zeller looks to be a sound basketball player with size, that can be coached to become an excellent pro player on both ends of the court. There’s less of a concern over where he’ll be a liability (which is rare for a Bobcat). He’s got offensive skills (which Biyombo & MKG lack), while also possessing quick feet and size for defense. After reading up on him a bit more, I get where Rich Cho’s head is at with this selection.

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