Stars of March Madness Who Could Land on Charlotte Bobcats

John FrielAnalyst IMarch 31, 2013

Stars of March Madness Who Could Land on Charlotte Bobcats

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    The Charlotte Bobcats could not have picked a worse year to be terrible.

    Maybe they should select their bouts of obscurity in years where great talent is set to enter the draft. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, currently a league-worst 17-56, they have the highest likelihood of gaining the No. 1 pick in a draft where there isn't a consensus No. 1 pick.

    Last year had Anthony Davis. The year before had Kyrie Irving. Even 2010 had John Wall. It hasn't been since 2007, when there was debate surrounding Kevin Durant or Greg Oden, that there wasn't an idea of who exactly the No. 1 pick should be.

    If it means anything to the Bobcats, it's highly unlikely they end up with the No. 1 pick. It seems that it has become impossible for the worst team in the NBA to garner the top pick, even though Charlotte hasn't tanked and is continuing to develop its young core late into the season.

    This is a pivotal offseason for the Bobcats. Not only will they have a couple of million wiped off the books thanks to the expiring contract of Diop, but they'll also receive yet another opportunity to build in the draft.

    Charlotte used its two picks last year to select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor. The year before they went with Kemba Walker and also traded for Bismack Biyombo.

    Gerald Henderson, the 12th pick in the 2009 draft, is the only other drafted Bobcats player to remain on the current roster. The rest of the Bobcats' personnel is built up with poorly-thought-out free-agent signings or trades.

    With March Madness in full tow, the time has come for potential draft prospects to begin separating themselves from the field and making a name for themselves.

    We take a look at five players who have participated in the NCAA tournament and how they would aid the struggling Bobcats.

Kelly Olynyk

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    Because Brendan Haywood and DeSagana Diop have turned into such enormous busts for the Charlotte Bobcats, it has left the team in a predicament where they must find some sort of scoring touch from the 4 or 5 positions.

    Enter Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk. The Bulldogs' seven-footer may not have been able to push his team past the third round, but he did as much as he could. He had 21 points on 15 shots to go along with 10 rebounds in their opening-round win over Southern, before following it up with 26 points on 22 shots and nine rebounds in an upset loss to Wichita State.

    Olynyk, who finished the 2012-13 season averaging 17.8 points on 66 percent shooting and 7.3 rebounds per game, was the star player for a Gonzaga team that finished the year 32-3 and secured a No. 1 seed.

    There are few centers like Olynyk in the 2013 draft, as well as in today's NBA. He can beat you with a jumper that extends out to the perimeter but can also thrive as the traditional centers did with footwork and great awareness around the rim.

    Olynyk is a risky pick due to his lack of athleticism and low rebounding and defensive numbers, but his offense is what has him projected to be taken within the top 10 in the coming draft, according to NBADraft.net.

    Also, seeing how he has come along from a sophomore who was averaging 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds only two years ago to a senior that was leading a championship contender will always speak well of a player's commitment to improvement.

    Then again, maybe the Bobcats have had their fill of long-haired, white guys from Gonzaga.

Nerlens Noel

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    Nerlens Noel may have partaken a large role in the greatest madness that came out of March.

    His Kentucky Wildcats' loss to Robert Morris in the opening-round of the NIT tournament was as deteriorating a loss as you can imagine for a team that wasn't a year removed from being NCAA champions.

    Noel came in with heavy expectations heading into his freshman season. After recent years of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, it was believed that coach John Calipari had unearthed another gem of a talent in the form of a big man.

    The Wildcats didn't have the success they had with Cousins and Davis, but Noel established himself as a reputable defender in a productive one-and-done college career. Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 1.6 assists per game.

    Noel has the potential to become a great shot-blocker, and there is a strong likelihood that he is taken in the top five.

    Although Noel is the first big expected to be taken, he may not fit the Bobcats' largest needs.

    Because he is a strong defensive presence equipped with little of an offensive skill set, he could just create overlap with Bismack Biyombo. Even then, Noel and Biyombo would combine for one of the more daunting and intimidating frontcourts if put on the floor together.

Cody Zeller

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    His Indiana Hoosiers may not have lived up to their lofty expectations, but Cody Zeller was able to live up to his early reputation of being a potential top five draft pick.

    Zeller won't end up as the No. 1 pick as some expected, which just may play in the cards for Charlotte. He fits the mold for one of the Bobcats' greatest necessities: a scoring power forward/center. 

    He is rated by NBADraft.net as the third power forward/center to be taken. Kentucky's Nerlens Noel and UNLV's Anthony Bennett are both projected to be selected before Zeller.

    What Zeller has going for him ahead of those two, however, is a stronger offensive repertoire.

    He has a jumper that extends out to the perimeter, something Noel cannot come close to boasting. Bennett shot well from everywhere on the floor but may not be the greatest priority if he turns out to be more comfortable playing at small forward.

    Cody is listed at 7'0", according to ESPN.com. With the right coaching, Zeller could become something special if he can transition his footwork and mid-range game to the physical NBA. The ability to stretch the floor will open up the lane for the drives of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson.

    Physical may not be something we'd have to worry about with Zeller.

    Zeller is a player that will fight and compete under any circumstances, which will aid him once he suffers through the process of knowing that he's a member of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Anthony Bennett

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    The Charlotte Bobcats used their top pick last year on a small forward, but their best possible choice this year may end up being someone who plays the same position.

    Anthony Bennett of UNLV is stuck between positions. He can play both small and power forward, but he has yet to establish which position he can excel at.

    NBADraft.net claims that he'll end up playing the 4, however. If the Bobcats can convert Bennett into a full-time power forward, they could end up with arguably the best frontcourt player of the draft.

    In a strong freshman season, Bennett averaged 16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per for a UNLV team that was upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament as a No. 5 seed. He had 15 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.

    There hasn't been too much talk surrounding Bennett. Could it be because of his inability to commit to the 3 or 4? Anthony Bennett could very well be the steal of this draft with the lack of hype being built up.

    He'll fit in as a stretch-4, too. With numerous shooters on the floor who can also drive, Bennett's going to stretch the floor with his jumper.

    On 2.7 attempts per from beyond the arc this season, he was converting 37 percent.

Victor Oladipo

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    Gerald Henderson wants to re-sign with the Charlotte Bobcats, and it's likely he is met with a new contract with his current team.

    Henderson has developed into a great young scorer, and he's a part of one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA. He is currently playing alongside Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions, but there is room for talent that just may end up as one of the most electrifying players in the draft.

    Indiana guard Victor Oladipo has stolen the spotlight from Cody Zeller, who was believed to be a No. 1 pick heading into the season. Either player now could go before the other, with Oladipo having an unbelievable jump in his game in between sophomore and junior seasons.

    Oladipo shot a career-best 60 percent from the field. Did I mention that he's a 6'5" guard? Because he also grabbed 6.5 rebounds per game, an improvement from 5.3 the year before.

    His scoring jumped from 10.8 to 13.6. He also showcased great perimeter defense and hands when grabbing 2.2 steals per game.

    He could just be of service for a Bobcats team that is nearly giving up nine three-pointers every night. The 39-percent shooting they're allowing from beyond the arc is second-worst in the league, percentage points behind the Phoenix Suns.

    A star athlete like Oladipo could help form a stronger defensive core alongside an athletic defender in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.