Strengths and Weaknesses
It's always tough to project how well rookies will transition to the NBA. With some players, you know what you'll get. It was no secret that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would bring extremely good defense to the next level. His footwork, determination and lateral quickness clearly still apply. Rebounding generally translates from college to the pros, too. Because of the value of virtuoso offense, the gamble is doubled down in high draft picks predominantly on offense. This is the case for Zeller, especially. He wasn't a great rebounder or defender, but showcased a terrific variety of offensive moves that enticed the Bobcats to draft him.
Zeller's impact will be felt most on offense, without a doubt. Not much noise is made about his athleticism, but it's truly phenomenal for a player his size. Let's play a game. The following are some predraft measurements from Draft Express. One of the players is Cody Zeller.
PLAYER A: 230 lbs | 4.8% body fat | 35.5 inch no step vert | 37.5 max vert | 10.82 lane agility | 3.15 3/4 court sprint
PLAYER B: 233 lbs | 7% body fat | 33 inch no step vert | 35.5 max vert | 11.77 lane agility | 3.18 3/4 court sprint
PLAYER C: 184 lbs | 5.9% body fat | 32 inch no step vert | 39.5 max vert | 10.87 lane agility | 3.16 3/4 court sprint
Player A is Zeller. Player B is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Player C is Kemba Walker.
So when I talk about a physical phenom in Zeller, we're talking about a seven-footer that can beat everyone down the court and out-jump the team's starting small forward. Summer League is hardly anything to base judgment of a player from, but Zeller showed off his speed and agility out of the three-point stance facing up from 18 feet from the basket. He's quick enough to beat opponents laterally and should see a lot of scoring opportunities on screen-and-rolls and cuts. His post game has the tools to be effective: Zeller boasts good touch with either hand and above average footwork. However, Zeller had trouble in the paint in college establishing position against stronger players and dealing with contact in general.
Defensively, Zeller has much less potential to shock the world in a positive manner. His quickness should lend well to pick and roll defense in hedging opposing guards and staying in front of smaller players on switches, but his aversion to contact does not instill much confidence in me. If he can get pushed out of position fairly easily, the Bobcats' only defensive safety valve at center is Bismack Biyombo. Zeller doesn't foul much but he also didn't embrace challenging shots with contact considering his size.
It seems Steve Clifford will be aiming for a more organic installation of Zeller on the Bobcats than just throwing him into the fire and hoping for the best. The offense has established players who can get things done on the perimeter and in the post, so the expectations on Zeller's back are a tad diminished. He should be able to give Kemba Walker a good target in the pick and roll and I have little doubt Zeller will be able to capitalize on establishing early position deep in the paint in transition.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Josh McRoberts is here to be a much more athletic version of a less pass-happy Boris Diaw and chew bubblegum. And he's all out of bubblegum.
GOOD: He's mobile, can handle the ball and pass well, has a decent jump shot and likes to dunk. McRoberts' arrival in Charlotte gave the team a much-needed boost on offense, helping the team's backcourt move off the ball for better looks on offense with improved ball movement. Terrific energy on the court and off it. Once called the guy who came up with the nickname "McBob" "some dumbass on a blog." Great hair.
BAD: McRoberts isn't a very good rebounder or defender. Also he doesn't like the nickname "McBob."
McRoberts' role will be a tad diminished since he's moving from the starting lineup to the bench, but I'd still expect him to get a decent share of minutes. His understanding of the game and energy makes for a solid role player than can help facilitate ball movement. Plus he can grow out his hair even more over the course of the season.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Tolliver won't see a whole lot of time in the rotation. With the sudden glut of power forwards and centers, Tolliver will get some time here and there, but he's a little undersized to guard power forwards and doesn't quite have the speed to defend at small forward. Nevertheless, Tolliver does beat out many players in sheer energy expended on the court. He rotates well on defense and goes for loose balls when possible. He does shoot the long ball pretty well, which can space the floor for the Bobcats. However, he hasn't shot above 40 percent on field goals in the past two seasons and his three ball can be inconsistent. He's not a great rebounder or shotblocker, either. So it goes.
He can help space the floor and shore up the bench team defense.
Position depth: C
I don't think Zeller will crush expectations overwhelmingly on one side or the other, but I think he'll play pretty well given his role. The extreme sourness we saw people have immediately after the draft has been more or less neutralized and or has at least aged to a less extreme nature. McRoberts should fit better coming off the bench and Tolliver probably won't play enough to impact games on a consistent basis. Jeff Adrien is on an unguaranteed contract and could return with his strengths as a rebounder and defender. The Bobcats might not have an all-star or near all-star this season at power forward, but I think they have a decent contributing young starter with a solid role player in McRoberts and some help from Tolliver and maybe Adrien.