NBA Draft 2013: Roberto Gato’s Predictions


Feb. 19, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Victor Oladipo (4) drives against Michigan State Spartans guard Gary Harris (14) during 1st half at Jack Breslin Students Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

With just hours remaining until the 2013 NBA Draft, Roberto Gato writers are weighing in on who the Bobcats will select, what players could be steals and which players will have underwhelming careers:

Who Bryan thinks the Bobcats will draft: Victor Oladipo

I don’t think they necessarily should draft him; I’d take Anthony Bennett if he were available. With that said, though, Rich Cho apparently really likes Cody Zeller, and the front office really likes Oladipo. He’s a high motor, high IQ, high potential player, and even though Michael Jordan doesn’t run the show any more, it probably wouldn’t be too hard to convince Cho to draft Oladipo. Think about it: High motor, high IQ, high potential… He’s the prototypical Cho draft choice.

Bryan’s Busts: Nerlens Noel and Alex Len
Noel is coming off a bad knee injury and the only reason he’s being talked about as a number one pick is, because he’s an elite defensive player and good rebounder. There’s literally nothing else in his game that screams “top 5 pick”. Next year, this same version of Noel probably wouldn’t even be a lottery pick.

As for Len, it’s a case of too good to be true. Only diehard ACC fans really knew who this guy was at the start of the season. Then he dominated Noel for 40 minutes in an early season thriller and had a decent year on a Terps team that some argue didn’t feature him enough. The problem I have is this: Even after the season was over, Len wasn’t thought of as a top 5 prospect. All of a sudden he’s shooting up draft boards and could be taken number one? I’m not buying it.

Bryan’s Steals: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jeff Withey
Each of these guys will be a steal for different reasons. Caldwell-Pope has All Star potential in him. Jeff Withey has the potential to immediately help out a playoff team improve its defense and rebounding. If Caldwell-Pope played for almost any other SEC team this year, he’d be a surefire top-10 pick. If he played on any NCAA tournament team, he’d be a can’t miss top 5 prospect.

Withey may never be an All Star, or even a starter in the NBA. But he’ll become a fan favorite on a playoff team, and he could put a group like the Knicks, Nets, Pacers, Bulls etc over the hump and into the finals.

February 11, 2013; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Ben McLemore (23) is congratulated by Kansas Jayhawks guard Elijah Johnson (15) in the second half of the game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 83 – 62. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Who Edward Thinks The Bobcats Will Draft: Ben McLemore

The draft is the most affordable way for the Bobcats to address their frontcourt issues. Alex Len is the best all-around big man in this draft and he has a good chance of being selected first by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nerlens Noel and Anthony Bennett could go off the board in any combination for the next two picks. This would leave the Bobcats with a choice between Cody Zeller, Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo.

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas called McLemore “the best talent in this draft.” He has the size, explosiveness, athleticism and shooting ability that teams dream of in a shooting guard. Many question whether he has the assertiveness and killer instinct to be a lead guard, but these are traits that can be developed over time. Despite having Gerald Henderson as a starting guard, McLemore’s talent and upside is too good for the Bobcats to pass on. The draft is all about acquiring the best talent and McLemore has as good a shot as any player to be that.

Edward’s Bust: Cody Zeller

It’s quick to see why general manager Rich Cho reportedly has an affinity for Zeller. Zeller has a good work ethic, solid feel for the game, and competes every play. He does the basic things coaches want a big man to do. He runs the floor, gets to the line and plays with heart. Zeller fits the talent mold that Bobcats coach Steve Clifford desires. Offensively, he has promising, crafty footwork in the low post and seems to be very effective and comfortable on the block.

However, Zeller doesn’t possess the physical advantages or the overall skill-set to be a high-level power forward or center in today’s league. He has a short wingspan for a seven-footer, isn’t overwhelming with his size, and struggles defending and playing against physical opponents. Much of today’s NBA is about spacing and perimeter play. Many teams use stretch forwards to force big men out of the paint and three-guard lineups aren’t as uncommon as they used to be. In turn, teams hope that their bigs have the lateral quickness and length to stay with a stretch forward or even a guard when pick and rolls are switched. Zeller competes, but could be a defensive liability without having the high-level offense to offset.

“Bust” is a harsh word. Zeller should have a long career as a serviceable roleplayer. I just don’t see the upside of a Len or Noel in him. He could be very underwhelming for one of the top picks in the draft.

Steals: C.J. McCollum and Reggie Bullock 

C.J. McCollum, best known for taking Lehigh to the NCAA’s Sweet 16 in 2012, is arguably the best shooter in this year’s draft. His game resembles a little bit of sharpshooter Stephen Curry and last season’s Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard. McCollum is arguably the best shooter in this year’s draft. He’s dangerous off the bounce and with his feet set. He’s capable of getting his own shot, getting into the paint and can going on big scoring binges.

Once McCollum is dialed in with his shot, it’s very difficult to stop him. McCollum might have more people talking  if he played at a larger school. As we’ve seen with Curry, Lillard and Morehead State’s Kenneth Faried, a sizeable group of players from small programs are making an impact in the NBA. If given the opportunity to start from Day 1, McCollum has all the signs of a steal in this year’s draft.

North Carolina forward Reggie Bullock isn’t a flashy player. He can’t create his own shot, he’s not a high-flying athlete or explosive, but he’s a high-level team defender and an excellent three-point shooter with his feet set. Bullock compares to Quincy Pondexter or fellow Tarheel Danny Green, in that he’s a “3D” player. Players like that usually project to have lengthy, productive careers while playing key roles on championship teams. Given the questionmarks of players projected ahead of him, in five years Bullock could certainly make teams regret not taking him with a higher pick.