May 27, 2013, 9:14 PM EST
You hate to say a guy made a mistake going back to college for a year, but in Cody Zeller’s case….
The center out of Indiana was expected to come out as a top 10 pick last year and he chose to return to Indiana for a sophomore season. And he pretty much looked exactly like the guy from his freshman season — he’s good but there was not a lot of development. Remember, teams are drafting a player trying to project a player three years down the road and progress is a big part of that. Don’t show any and… it’s an issue. He has fallen down the draft boards, a Top 5 guy in this draft at the start of the season that is now late lottery.
That said, the fact he is a legit NBA center with some skills — plus an impressive vertical at the NBA Draft Combine — is going to have him getting picked late in the lottery (DraftExpress has him at No. 11, to the Sixers, where he would be sure to play better than that center they picked up last summer).
He’s a legitimate NBA center — 7’0” in shoes, standing reach of 8’10” and he weighs 230 pounds with a frame that can put on a few more (and he needs to). What really caught scouts’ eyes at the combine was a 33-inch standing vertical — the guy has legit hops and can get up around the basket.
While he has great size he’s a good athlete and very mobile for a big man. He is the kind of big man that on the right team can get a lot of points by simply outrunning his man down the floor and getting the ball in the paint before the defense can get set.
But he can score a lot of ways, he has a good all around offensive game. He can score with either hand around the rim, can face up and has a jumper teams think can be good (he didn’t need to use it much in college). Plus he has soft hands. You watch him play and you can picture him as a good pick-and-roll big with someone such as Jrue Holiday because he can roll, catch the ball and score inside or he can pop out and be a threat.
He’s also the kind of player coaches like on the roster — a high motor, hard working guy with good basketball instincts and IQ.
At the college level as a sophomore, when he went against NBA-sized big men, he got pushed around physically. He has to get stronger and learn how to both defend on the block and hold his rebounding position. There are no more games against the boys, it’s the men now. He has to get strong enough to defend the Zach Randolphs, the Tiago Splitters, the kind of legitimate NBA bigs he will see now.
While he’s been a good college scorer with a nice offensive game, he’s going to have to adjust to doing it at the NBA level against longer, quicker, more athletic guys. He has the kind of basketball mind that should adjust, but it will take some work.
He also has the potential because of his mobility to be a good pick-and-roll defender, but he has a lot of work to do on that end of the floor.
WHAT DOES DAUSTER THINK?
We don’t get to watch as much of these guys as college writers do, so we turn to Rob Dauster of NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk.com.
There were quite a few people that were left shaking their heads when Zeller made the decision to return to Indiana after a freshman campaign that could have gotten him picked in the top ten of last year’s draft. Those concerns came to fruition during the 2012-2013 season, as Zeller managed to put together a disappointing all-american season, if that’s possible.
Zeller was a known quantity entering the year, and he didn’t do anything during the season that set himself apart from where he was last season. He didn’t add any new wrinkles to his game. He didn’t become a powerful low post scorer. He didn’t add much weight to his frame and doesn’t show off the kind of length or lower-body strength that would allow him to be an elite rebounder or a defender in the NBA. The images of him struggling with the length of Syracuse in the NCAA tournament certainly resonate.
Some of the critiques of Zeller are unfair, as he had absurdly high expectations entering the year. What he is is a skilled, versatile offensive weapon that has a back-to-the-basket game, runs the floor as well as any center in the NBA, and sports a better perimeter jumper than he gets credit for. He’s limited in some areas, but he plays hard, he plays smart and he’s a winner. He may not be the second coming of Bill Walton, but in a draft with a lot of question marks and risk, Zeller seems like a safe bet to be a starter in the NBA for a number of years.
WHERE DOES HE GET DRAFTED?
Late lottery, between 9 and 14. Dauster hits the nail on the head at the end of his section — Zeller is not going to be an NBA star for you, but he can be a guy who in a couple years you can count on for 20 solid minutes a night in the paint. That has value, it can lead to a long NBA career.
Dec 4, 2013, 6:35 PM EST
Is it too late to join the Eastern Conference? Asking for a friend.— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 04, 2013 That is just classic. Sure, it’s been easy for fans and the media to pile on the Eastern Conference, where the 9-9 Wizards are the No. 3 seed and the 8-12 Celtics lead the Atlantic Division.…
Dec 4, 2013, 5:59 PM EST
Larry Sanders has been out since early November when he got involved in a bar fight and tore ligaments in his thumb so badly it required surgery to repair the hand. Sanders has since apologized to fans and the team for the incident. But it’s not over yet. Sanders has been cited twice for his…
Dec 4, 2013, 5:14 PM EST
The Washington Wizards have gone 7-3 in their last 10 and have moved into the No. 3 seed in the East (at 9-9, but still the three seed) all without having the No. 3 pick in the last draft Otto Porter, who was supposed to be the starting three on this team. But they could…
Dec 4, 2013, 3:58 PM EST
When TNT worked with the NBA to set up its Thursday showcase schedule, this Thursday seemed like a ratings spike — the defending Atlantic Division champion Knicks with Carmelo Anthony against the new Kidd on the block in the Brooklyn Nets. Then a showdown between Derrick Rose‘s Bulls and the two-time defending champion Heat. The…
Dec 4, 2013, 3:15 PM EST
It’s the most anticipated game on the NBA calendar, a battle of powerhouse franchises fighting for the heart of America’s biggest city… Or, it could be a big steaming pile of… that stuff you have to scrape off the bottom of your shoe sometimes. It’s the Thursday night showdown between the 3-13 Knicks vs. the…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:28 PM EST
Nate Robinson often gets plenty of run for the Nuggets in the fourth quarter of games. For one thing, he is the human proof of the hot hand theory and when he gets going can change a game (or he can be Mr. Snow Miser, everything he touches turns to snow in his clutch… he’s…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:04 PM EST
DeMarcus Cousins sat out the Kings loss to the Thunder Tuesday night with an ankle injury. When asked if he would be ready to go Friday, he decided to play comedian. Don’t tempt fate, DeMarcus. Derrick Rose may not think it’s funny but Cousins’ comments sounded like a lot of people on twitter who have…
Dec 4, 2013, 1:14 PM EST
Got to hand it to Turkish Airlines — they are willing to pay for two of the most expensive sports sponsors in the world, then they have put together some pretty clever ads for them. The latest has Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi — apparently both having time on their hands as they try to recover…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:48 PM EST
We use the phrase here regularly: Kevin Durant is the second best basketball player walking the planet earth right now. Durant is sick of having that title. He has said it before and he said it again in an interview set to air on “60 Minutes Sports” which will air on Showtime tonight (10 ET).…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:04 PM EST
Omer Asik will be out for at least a week after suffering a right thigh contusion, reports Jason Friedman of Rockets.com. Asik will be re-evaluated at that time to assess whether or not he’s able to return. Asik’s injury could leave Houston pretty shorthanded for Wednesday night’s contest against the Suns. Jeremy Lin is out…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:42 AM EST
The Spurs will face the Timberwolves in Mexico City on Wednesday as part of the NBA’s 2013-14 Global Games schedule, which included eight preseason games played internationally and one more to be played in London on between the Hawks and the Nets on Jan. 16. San Antonio’s players celebrated the occasion by taking on some…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:01 AM EST
Imagine being in a management position at your job, and supervising one of your better employees for a somewhat extended period of time. Then flash forward years later, when for a variety of reasons, you accept a position working for your former employee, who now has your old job. And while your former employee knows…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:22 AM EST
When the Golden State Warriors start raining threes there is no show like them in the NBA. The Warriors were down 27 points in the third quarter night at home to the Raptors. The Raptors were ahead 18 entering the fourth quarter and every Toronto fan still awake and watching the game back home was…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:08 AM EST
We told you yesterday Mike Woodson’s seat is getting hot in New York — The Knicks are 3-13 and have lost nine in a row, owner James Dolan has a Nets obsession, the Knicks play the Nets on Thursday and if the Knicks streak reaches 10… let’s just say Dolan is unpredictable. The fact Woodson…
Dec 4, 2013, 8:43 AM EST
The night before Paul George did the same thing for the Pacers, this time it was Arron Afflalo — scoring 43 points in a losing effort. Afflalo was overshadowed by the two rookies notching triple-doubles (Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo) but this was a career high for the former UCLA star. He had 14 in the…
The Extra Pass: Chemistry clicking in Denver as Nuggets beat Nets to win seventh straight, and Tuesday’s recaps
Dec 4, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
NEW YORK – If it was a fight, they would have stopped it. To say the Nuggets beat the Nets on Tuesday to earn their seventh straight win wouldn’t at all be an accurate description of how Denver came out and destroyed Brooklyn in the third quarter, and then continued the assault against a depleted and…
Tuesday night NBA Grades: Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo with dueling rookie triple doubles
Dec 4, 2013, 2:13 AM EST
If you were busy exploring our galaxy online and not watching hoops Monday then you missed the first time in NBA history that two rookies recorded triple-doubles in the same game. We’re here to help you out with our nightly grades from around the league. Michael Carter Williams, Philadelphia 76ers. The early leader in the…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:25 AM EST
Bobcats forward Michael Kidd Gilchrist suffered a left hand fracture against the Mavericks on Tuesday, the team announced. Kidd-Gilchrist left the game in the third quarter and did not return. X-rays revealed the fracture, and he will be re-evaluated on Wednesday when the club returns to Charlotte. Paul Pierce and Anthony Davis both suffered similar…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:42 PM EST
You got to be the programmers for the latest edition of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk Podcast with myself and Eyton Shander of NBC Sports Radio — I asked you to send me twitter questions (@basketballtalk) and we tried to answer a bunch of them. We start off talking Trail Blazers and their hot start, then move on…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:16 PM EST
We’ve seen shots launched over the backboard from behind it made before, but none of them were quite like this. Midway through the first quarter following an airball from Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley chased down the rebound as the ball was seemingly headed out of bounds. Not only did he corral it, but he had…
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