Very Early Recommendation for Charlotte Bobcats' 2013 First-Round NBA Draft Pick

Amber North@NoDensityContributor IIMarch 6, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, IN - MARCH 05:  Cody Zeller #40 of the Indiana Hoosiers watches a free throw during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Assembly Hall on March 5, 2013 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With the regular season winding down, it is a pretty sure bet that the Charlotte Bobcats are a shoo-in for a top three pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Because the Bobcats are low in the standings, they would avoid turning this year’s draft pick to the Chicago Bulls from the Tyrus Thomas trade.

The plethora of “one-and-done” college players are making it tougher on rebuilding teams such as Charlotte, because they are in dire need of players that can make immediate impacts. has Charlotte with the No. 1 pick of its mock draft, and Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore tops this year’s class.

With comparisons to Ray Allen, McLemore sounds like a great top choice, but the Bobcats are already overloaded with wingmen.

Reserve guard Ben Gordon is as good as gone this summer, but that still leaves Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Ramon Sessions as the go-to guards.

Adding another guard will not help Charlotte overcome yet another struggling season.

McLemore is only a freshman, anyhow, so development and maturity could be an issue.

Another possibility is Kentucky’s center Nerlens Noel, who is nursing a torn ACL. He obviously will need additional time to recover once the 2013-14 season begins.

The Bobcats need an immediate effect, though.

There is one player in the NCAA that could be NBA-ready by June 27: Indiana’s Cody Zeller.

The Bobcats already have a seven-footer in Byron Mullens, but he is practically an over-sized shooting guard. Coach Mike Dunlap even had to get on him about shooting less three-pointers in favor of making post plays.

Zeller does not have that problem, and he could be the lone draft pick that could be a “difference-maker” for Charlotte.

Cody Zeller’s Strengths

Cody Zeller is one big fella that can run the floor.  On top of that, he has plenty of agility around the rim and does not plant his feet in the post.

He comes from a basketball family tree (brothers Tyler and Luke play for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns, respectively), so hooping is in his nature.

Zeller could have easily added his name to the long list of “one-and-dones” that have dominated college basketball in recent years, but he came back, and his game is even stronger.

His stat sheet is impressive, with 16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, as of March 5.

He also is an accurate shooter—a rarity for big men—with a .573 field goal percentage, and is shooting 75 percent from the charity stripe.

Offensively, Zeller is about as well-rounded a big man can get.

The first play featured in this clip is a sweet Zeller post move that ends with a nice kiss off the glass.

Then there are the three times he out-jumped defenders and jams in the put-backs. 

But the best highlight of this video is near the 2:00 mark, where Zeller out-hustles two Michigan players and takes the ball back for another Hoosier possession.

That sort of aggression would fit in well with Dunlap's team strategy.

Cody Zeller’s Weaknesses

Zeller definitely has improved from his breakout freshman season, but there are still some areas he ought to continue to work on.

Defensively, he is not as strong and could add some more bulk to his body. Even though his eight boards a game is a solid average, it won’t necessarily fly in the pros. He will definitely need to toughen up on the glass.

Look at all the swiping Zeller does in this clip. A simple box-out would prevent this humiliation, but Zeller fails repeatedly to grab the rebound.

Mullens is playing more like a true center in recent games, but he will need a complementary big man to let him take some outside shots, as well.

Could Cody Zeller Make an Immediate Impact?

 This year’s draft is slim pickings in comparison to last year.

Zeller’s stock may not be as high as it was last season, but he still has a chance to be a top five draft pick.

Noel's ACL injury definitely made the draft pool shallower, and some NBA scouts are skeptical about this particular class.

New Orleans Hornets power forward Anthony Davis and Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard are the two main rookies from last year's draft that have immediately helped their teams—Lillard, especially.

That being said, Zeller is a diligent basketball player who has proven that he will do whatever it takes to bring his team a W.

His offense is just fine, but Mike Dunlap would have to work with him on his defensive tactics, or lack thereof. He cannot play in the NBA while being intimidated under the rim.

Zeller is still the best post player in this year's draft class, and his stock could rise even higher if he's able to lead his Hoosiers to the national championship in April.


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