Coach Steve Clifford has seen enough from his rookie big man, Cody Zeller to pencil him in at the four-spot when the Bobcats face the Atlanta Hawks in Asheville tonight.
Clifford is really high on seven-year veteran forward Josh McRoberts and has given him every opportunity to compete with Zeller for the position but he has been hampered most of training camp with a sore big toe. It's Zeller's poise and veteran-like approach to the game that has caught the eye of his teammates.
He’s good,” point guard Kemba Walker said emphatically at practice Monday at UNC Asheville. “He isn’t worried about the pressure of being the No. 4 pick. He just knows basketball. He’s the guy we need on this team because it doesn’t matter (whether he puts up gaudy numbers). He doesn’t need to make this huge impact right away because what he does (naturally) already has impact without always being on the stat sheet.”
When asked about the other ways Zeller could impact the game, Walker said, “Moving the ball and setting random screens, also he makes guys better, and that’s tough from the (power forward) position. He does so many small things that help me and Gerald (Henderson) and Al (Jefferson). That’s the guy he is – team-first. Great to have him at that position.”
Zeller will join Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Henderson and Walker in the starting lineup giving them size and tons of athleticism at every position. The other four starting positions are a virtual lock, but the power forward position will remain a wait-and-see for now.
“Josh has had so little time on the court he’s not nearly ready to play from a conditioning standpoint, nor a rhythm standpoint,” Clifford said. “He’s a ways away.”
Tip-off is at 7:30 pm ET and coverage will begin at 7 pm ET on Fox Sports South.