Banged-up big men might have muddled Charlotte Bobcats’ draft plans

06/17/2013 6:37 PM

06/18/2013 12:15 AM

Big man prospects Noel, Len and Bennett will not be able to work out for team

The Charlotte Bobcats will start their pre-draft workouts Wednesday with two sessions of auditions.

But those players who won’t work out – most of them can’t because of health issues – might be the more intriguing factors in how the Bobcats use the No. 4 overall pick June 27.

Nevada-Las Vegas forward Anthony Bennett, Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and Maryland center Alex Len all have injuries that preclude them from pre-draft auditions. Bennett had surgery on his left shoulder to repair a torn rotator cuff. Noel is recovering from knee surgery to repair a torn ACL. Len, who’ll visit the Bobcats on Tuesday, had surgery during April to stabilize a partial stress fracture in his left ankle.

While all three are expected to make a full recovery, each probably would miss summer league as a result of those surgeries. While that’s certainly not a deal-breaker for the Bobcats selecting one, it would be an added complication for Steve Clifford, the Bobcats’ third coach in as many seasons.

Another top prospect, Georgetown small forward Otto Porter, won’t be in Charlotte for a workout. There’s widespread speculation he can’t slip below the No. 3 pick of the Washington Wizards, who have an obvious need at small forward and have local ties to Porter.

Even if Bennett, Noel and Len can’t work out, there’s potential value in them coming to Charlotte for job interviews like the one Len will do today. Bennett’s agent, Mike George, said Bennett will meet Saturday with the Bobcats. It’s unclear when or if Noel will be in Charlotte.

Of the three injuries, Noel’s probably will keep him out the longest. He suffered it during mid-February and had surgery early in March. Noel said at the NBA draft combine last month he probably wouldn’t be available to play before December.

With Bennett, Noel and Len unavailable and Porter passing on the Bobcats, the likely candidates for No. 4 who can work out are Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore, Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo, Michigan point guard Trey Burke and perhaps Indiana big man Cody Zeller.

The Bobcats haven’t announced who will be in their Wednesday workouts, but it makes sense McLemore, Oladipo and Burke might all be in for a guard-oriented audition.

The Bobcats don’t have a second-round pick this year. It will go to the Oklahoma City Thunder to complete a previous trade for big man Byron Mullens.

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