Grading Charlotte Bobcats' 2013 NBA Draft Decisions

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Grading Charlotte Bobcats' 2013 NBA Draft Decisions
Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports
Charlotte Bobcats GM Rich Cho and president of basketball operations Rod Higgins introduce 2013 draft pick Cody Zeller.

All things considered, for the Charlotte Bobcats and their fans, having only one pick in the 2013 NBA draft went as well as they could possibly have hoped.

That is, of course, until the No. 4 pick was announced.

How the Bobcats' draft is graded will not be based solely on the quality of talent that they acquired. Considering the options available to them, we will also be evaluating their draft execution.

To set the stage, let's start at the beginning with Cleveland.

The Cavaliers shocked the world!

This isn't even a joke. They must have written the book on smoke and mirrors, because they had everyone believing that they were either going to trade their pick or draft Nerlens Noel or Alex Len.

They did neither. Instead, they took Anthony Bennett from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

That left the Orlando Magic to draft Indiana guard Victor Oladipo at No. 2, followed by the Washington Wizards' selection of Georgetown forward Otto Porter Jr.

At this point, Charlotte fans had to have been giddy beyond belief.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Kentucky Wildcats star Nerlens Noel could only hold back whatever feelings of anger or sadness he might have been feeling while getting passed over by six teams, including the Bobcats.

The Bobcats' two best potential options were there, staring them in the face.

Nerlens Noel—regarded by most to be the top prospect in the 2013 draft class—was there for the taking. They could have taken Noel and given him as much time as he might need to recover from ACL surgery.

Making their situation even more enviable, Ben McLemore—considered by some analysts, like ESPN's Jay Bilas and Chad Ford, to have the most potential and highest ceiling of all the 2013 prospects—was also there.

So, what happens?

 

Charlotte Bobcats' No. 4 Pick

The Bobcats took a page from the Cavaliers playbook—the one entitled, "Shock and Awe."

David Stern walks to the podium, taking a moment to absorb another round of boos, "With the fourth pick in the 2013 NBA draft, the Charlotte Bobcats select... Cody Zeller from Indiana University."

Don't get me wrong, no one is trying to rain on Cody Zeller's parade.

He is a great NBA prospect. He has good size and is very skilled offensively. He has the fourth-best WARP (Wins Against Replacement Players) rating among all incoming prospects. He even compares to a few of the league's best bigs—LaMarcus Aldridge, Al Horford and Chris Bosh—while grading out as a better athlete.

He should be able to contribute immediately.

Considering his size, athleticism and offensive skills, it's no wonder that Bobcats GM Rich Cho was so fond of him going into the draft.

It also, probably, didn't hurt that Zeller was the only top prospect to actually participate in the team's organized workouts in Charlotte.

No one can fault the Bobcats for pulling the trigger on the player that they desired most.

Cody Zeller as a prospect merits good marks.

Grade: B -

 

Execution of Pick

Their execution of the pick, however, certainly doesn't deserve much praise.

President of basketball operations Rod Higgins explained afterward why the team felt it best to take Zeller fourth overall.

We had some interest in doing some other deals, but at the end of the day we didn’t feel comfortable moving back and losing Cody either. Our goal was to get Cody and we’re happy to have him.

Cody Zeller was not a popular selection among Charlotte fans.

It's understandable that they would fear missing out on the player that they wanted most.

However, when building a team, the quickest way to success is with quality assets, and obtaining such assets is not without risk. 

There were a handful of teams eagerly seeking to trade into the top five, particularly with hopes of drafting one of the top two shooting guards in the draft.

With Ben McLemore on the board, there were deals worth making.

Multiple sources were reporting that the Minnesota Timberwolves were so desperate for either Oladipo or McLemore that they were willing to offer both of their first-round picks (No. 9 and No. 26) and former second overall pick Derrick Williams to move into the top five.

Sure, with both the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans making a run on big men with the fifth and sixth picks (choosing Alex Len and Nerlens Noel), the possibility that Zeller could have been taken before the ninth spot was nothing to scoff at.

Still, the Bobcats missed out on a great chance to gain assets.

Even in knowing whom they truly wanted to take, if Charlotte's brass really wanted get the most out of the draft, it should have played a better hand of poker. It should have been more secretive of its desires.

The opportunity was there to be had. An ace and a king hit the table on the flop, but the team chose to fold. It cashed out with a 10 and a jack in the pocket instead of chancing a royal flush.

By not taking the risk, President Higgins and GM Cho have established that the market value for Zeller is higher than three talented young players. That is not the reality that the rest of the basketball world is living in.

Execution Grade: D- (for failing to take a chance)

 

Overall Draft Grade:  C-

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