That’s right; with the 4th pick in the NBA Draft the Charlotte Bobcats selected Cody Zeller. Was I shocked? Of course I was. Honestly, I believe that everyone was shocked with the first 7 picks. Did all of the teams get it right? Did Charlotte get it right? How bad was the “boo-fest” at TWC Arena as our 4th pick was announced? That's right, there was a "boo-fest" in our own arena. Read on.
This is 2 years in a row that I have campaigned for players that we did not pick. Do I think it sucks? Well, my feelings are hurt a little…
Seriously though, I am no NBA scout. I do not possess a database of every tangible and intangible of every player at the NBA, college, and high school level. I do not have a series of scouts that are giving me detailed reports of every player. I’m a fan. Like every fan, I have an opinion. Was my opinion right? Well, last year I wanted to draft Thomas Robinson because I felt that he could be the guy we needed to help the frontcourt. He turned out to be a disappointment for Sacramento, and was even traded to Houston, where he wasn’t even utilized. Now, personally, I believe that he fell into 2 bad teams that had no need for him and I’d still try to package something to get him to Charlotte because he wasn’t a fluke in Kansas, and he was not picked 5th for no reason. If I’m right, Mr. Cho is most likely packaging something up to get T-Rob in Charlotte because we are losing Jeff Adrien, Gana Diop, Josh McRoberts, and probably Byron Mullens. That thins out the PF spot pretty hard. If I’m wrong, then we won’t see any move for Robinson and maybe a couple of the guys I named wind up staying in Charlotte (like McRoberts maybe). Cho knows best, so I continue to support Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I prefer the nickname “Gillie the Kidd” over MKG, so I plan to use it over MKG. Mine just sounds cooler.
Back to this year’s pick. Was it the sexy move? Well, Cody’s known as the “Big Handsome”…wait…that’s not what I mean by “sexy move”. Making the sexy move is the same as making the popular move. There were screams for us to draft Bennett because he could be our Larry “Grand ma ma” Johnson 2.0. Well, he went first. Folks clamored over Oladipo, Dwayne Wade 2.0, who even I was a fan of. Well, he went 2nd. We knew we were not going after Otto Porter because we took Gillie and Jeff Taylor for our SF core. The 4th pick came up and the tension was at a fever pitch. Noel was still available, McLemore was still available, and Alex Len, my choice for this year, was still available. All of these guys were the “sexy” picks because they were high on that all knowing “Mock Draft Board”. Surely we would get one of those guys, right? I mean we had Len come in and talk to the organization, though he couldn’t participate. We didn’t talk to Noel because the “Mock Draft” had him going at #1, so no way we would get him. Ben McLemore, who was reported to have bombed his workout in Phoenix and attended another workout where he was described as “out of shape”, had a great college season, though he stumbled in the NCAA tournament. None of this hurt his draft potential…right? That’s all of the targets, right? I mean Cody Zeller came in and did a group workout and showed all sorts of promise. Great footwork, shooting range and touch, relentless energy, and a great work ethic were all on display in the Presbyterian Hospital Practice court. I know that last season we were trying to inject a new culture of hard workers that worked hard to be better and worked hard to make everyone else be better. Are we still doing that or are we looking to get “sexy”? Well, in a rebuild, the “sexy” pick isn’t the way to go. It isn’t always about just putting butts in the seats. If there’s not a superstar n a draft, you take the best, most solid and proven player in the draft. With all of the advanced scouting, database of knowledge, and a small bit of luck, the Charlotte Bobcats drafted Cody Zeller. He has always been touted as the most athletic of his family. Whatever the scouts were seeing with him in college came through in the workout and undoubtedly, he was “as advertised”. He fit the culture that the Bobcats are trying to establish, and he also filled a need that we desperately had. We drafted a hard working player that will be best suited at PF in the NBA. Cody himself has said that it would be no problem to add 15-20 lbs of muscle to his frame, and it shouldn’t affect his quickness and agility. If I draft a 7-foot power forward that weighs in at 230 and he says he’d have no problem bulking up to 250 and would remain quick and agile, I see no hesitation on drafting him. That’s what Charlotte did. Even Kemba Walker was ecstatic. He sent a tweet to Rod Higgins, excited about our pick. What that out of courtesy? I think not. He didn't have to say anything, but he did.
It had its repercussions in Charlotte though. What was supposed to be a draft party for our team, attended by the fans of the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets, turned into a “boo-fest”, wrapped up with chants of “Bobcats Suck.” Way to stay classy Bobcats fans. I believe the professionals know more about the business than we do. The worst of it all, we made the news. How great! Our team’s fans, in our home arena, chanting “Bobcats Suck” as our newest Bobcat is drafted was not the way to go. Hopefully, CeeZee, my nickname for Cody, takes that as a challenge to prove why he was the best pick at #4 for the Bobcats instead of imploding because the appearance is that Charlotte doesn’t want him here.
Charlotte picked a guy who showed that he has shooting range and could prove to be a better stretch 4 than anyone that we could have picked up at #4. We didn’t draft a center, which means we are still committed to Bismack Biyombo at that position. Biz can remain a defensive minded player and improve slowly on offense because we drafted a big that can play the pick-and-roll, and score off of that roll. As his shot improves, he can stretch the floor and allow for Hendo, Kemba, or Gillie to drive to the hoop for points. He can draw defenders out of the paint to open up Biz or Gillie for easy dunks. He was the most NBA-ready, and not injured player available at a position that we needed help with. He will also be available for the Summer league where Bennett, Len, and Noel would not have been. It's very important to be able to have players that can come in and start working immediately, and that's just what we got.
Like my last article said in quoting the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.” Rich Cho got what we needed. Time will have to prove that to the fans.
In Cho I trust…still…
Cody Zeller, welcome to Charlotte and welcome to the Bobcats/Hornets family.