Some thought Cody Zeller cost himself a high lottery pick by remaining at Indiana for a second season. It didn't matter: Zeller has been selected by the Charlotte Bobcats with the No. 4 pick overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, just two picks after his college teammate Victor Oladipo went to the Orlando Magic.
Few considered the younger brother of Cleveland power forward Tyler and former Suns power forward Luke to be a top-five pick, but word came out on Wednesday that the Bobcats were considering Zeller, with GM Rich Cho favoring the Hoosier. Meanwhile, Alex Len and Nerlens Noel, both considered possibilities for the top pick, remain on the board.
The 6'11 sophomore center anchored a highly-ranked Indiana team in 2012-13, but he failed to make a big jump in his second college season and his stock dropped a bit in the eyes of some scouts. Zeller is a mobile center with good athleticism and impressive touch around the rim. He averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds for the Hoosiers in his sophomore year, but he struggled to emerge as a go-to scorer during the NCAA Tournament. He may need to add strength so he can be more physical in the paint, especially against NBA talent.
Zeller should thrive in transition, thanks to his speed, quickness and above-average ball handling skills. His diverse skillset should help limit his bust potential in the NBA, but there are still plenty of questions about how good Zeller can be at the next level.
The Bobcats need help at every position, so they can definitely make room for a highly-skilled big man with a history of scoring efficiently. Bismack Biyombo and Byron Mullens never seized their opportunity to take over as a franchise caliber frontcourt player, so Zeller should have the chance to carve out a nice role on offense during his rookie season in Charlotte.
With the selection of Zeller, Kemba Walker gains a new pick-and-roll partner capable of diving to the rim to finish or stretching the defense with his mid-range shooting ability. The Walker-Zeller pairing holds interesting potential for a team still searching for a credible offensive identity, and perhaps that's why Rich Cho decided to select the most polished big man in the draft.
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