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NBA Draft: Scout’s take on UNC’s Tyler Zeller

Jun 20, 2012, 12:15 PM EDT

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Kansas v North Carolina Getty Images


When you talk to people about North Carolina center and likely lottery pick Tyler Zeller, that is the word that keeps coming up. Solid. Guys move up the draft board because they get the word “upside” attached to them, but if you can get a solid big man who can step in and play now late in the lottery you’ve done well.

And that’s what you get with the 7’0” Zeller, who likely gets drafted in the 11-15 range.

Philadelphia is in that range, so talked to some scouts about what they see in Zeller.

“He has some polish. He’s NBA-ready, in terms of, he can get out there on the court, ready to play. He’s a really, really fundamentally solid player. He knows everything. I’m not sure how high his ceiling is, but he has a very good understanding of the game and does a lot of the little things.”

There’s that word again, solid. Here is the take of the second scout.

“I think he’s a finished product, but it’s a good finish. He’s one of those kids that got better every year at Carolina. He’s a really good north-south runner. He can shoot the ball. He’ll be decent around the basket, but I think he’ll be more of a limited scorer around the basket in our league. I think he’ll be more of a pick-and-pop, trail on the break, step into shots off the break (type of player). I think he can do that.”

It’s not sexy, Zeller is not a risky pick. It’s a solid one.

But a solid big late in the lottery is a good find.

  1. zblott - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Everyone keeps missing Zeller’s best attribute that is WAY undervalued right now: he’s always in the right place on defense (on his man, on rotations, on guys slashing to the hoop, on pick-and-rolls, on everything). This makes any type of interior scoring for opponents difficult and improves his team’s defensive abilities in a way that wing defenders are not able to do. He will be THE cornerstone to some team’s defense, while still providing high-level rebounding and decent scoring, which is something more teams need right now. Whoever picks Zeller got a steal.

    • phaden27 - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      With the second pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats select…. WAIT WAIT WAIT!!!!!

  2. rajbais - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    He should be top-5 then. If he looks ready to be on a NBA floor and has none of the “ceiling”/”potential” crap that scouts spout out there while denying that they think they’re psychic pick him earlier than others!!!

    • 6thsense79 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      Sorry…the ceiling/potential crap is exactly the type of things that NBA teams should look for. It’s the difference between drafting a Dwight Howard vs an Emeka Okafor. Remember that debate when both entered the draft? Top 5 spots really are reserved for players a team feels can develop into an all star or franchise type player it’s not reserved for “solid” players.

      • rajbais - Jun 21, 2012 at 12:15 AM

        NO, the ceiling/potential crap is exactly the type of things that NBA teams should NOT look for.

        Plus, when you talk about Dwight Howard versus Okafor you don’t take Okafor because he is and was suspected to be 6’9″ and not as long in wingspan in comparison to Howard!!!!

        You’re too hard on Okafor though because he was a fine player in Charlotte with the averages of 14 points and 11 boards.

        He only underachieved because he had a score first point guard in Chris Paul. If you have a score-first point guard when father time will catch up with you, you will not score well as a center. Plus, Dwight Howard was allowed to grow after the Magic got rid of Steve Francis in order to get scoring opportunities!!!!

        There are more bad ceiling/potential routes because scouts equate game incompleteness combined with athleticism to a great future!!!! Look at Tyrus Thomas, Brandan Wright, DerMarr Johnson, Nikoloz Skitishvili (2002 Draft. He was so terrible and forgettable I forgot his name), Hasheem Thabeet (who truly is worse than Kwame Brown), or any high school player that did not look like a man among boys and likely incapable of averaging double figures as a rookie!!!!

        Teams, scouts, GM’s have kept failing with that formula and the last time I checked Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing to get different results. If that’s not the case it’s 100% delusion!!!!

        I’m sorry, but these scouts have no intelligence in evaluating players!!! They crap on NBA History and what really made players great before coming into the pros!!!

        We will never see players win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same years ever again!!! Wes Unseld and Wilt Chamberlain are the only to do so!!! If a rookie has a hard time averaging double figures in points he will likely not be great because basketball intellect is the greatest savior for any player!!! In order to be great body maturation, film study, the use of basketball intellect to gain new skills, learn the opponents, and adjust to game flows are keys!!!

        These scouts are already incompetent!!! The GMs still treat max contracts as if they’re mandatory when they should match the year length with the players’ track records!!! The better the track records the more years he is worthy!!!! Don’t give them rules or standards that cause them to act delusional!!!! If you do parity will be a rarity when teams claim that they want competitive balance!!!

  3. zblott - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    The problem is most scouts and fans declare a player’s ceiling based on how well he’d do in an obstacle course, not understand the game of basketball in a way that meaningfully impacts a team. What would scouts today say Indiana State’s Larry Bird’s ceiling would be verses Andre Drummond, Perry Jones, or Harrison Barnes?

    That’s why we have to look at production. Everyone is quick to look past players who did squat in college, or who anchored underachieving squads, if they have long arms and are fast, yet I’m still waiting to see any of these players reach their supposed ceiling in the NBA.

  4. joshvanklomp - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Would love him in Minnesota

  5. 00maltliquor - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:53 AM

    Future overpaid $12+ million a year C.

    (Not saying he’s bad, I actually love the kid, but you know how it is with C’s with marginal skill in this league, and this kid has the goods)

  6. 1historian - Jun 21, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    What the scouts are saying is that the kid does not have the purely physical gifts that many of the others have in this draft, but he is a smarter basketball player because of that.

    On top of that he got good coaching in Indiana as a youngster and he got top-notch coaching while at North Carolina.

    Sum up – he’s not the most physically gifted player in the draft but he is fundamentally sound and a smart player, and he is 7′ tall.

    Ergo – solid.

    I would like to see the Celts swap #21 & #22 to move in and grab him. Danny Ainge is starting to display some of the old redhead’s traits – sneaky, underhanded, devious, etc. – all good traits for a GM in pro sports these days, not unlike his counterpart in Foxboro.

    FYI – I am a big fan of the Patriots, a fan of the Celtics, don’t really care about the Bruins, although I liked it when they won the Cup last year. (The next time they do I’ll be long gone.) And the Red Sox make me laugh. (It’s only a game)

    I like old R&R, cool jazz, silly dogs and single-malt Scotch.

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