Don't Make Me Use The Bat
Projected Draft Number: #7 NBADraft.net/#11 Draftexpress.com
College Stats 2012-13: 29.5min 16.5pts (.562FG% .000TPt% .757FT%) 8.1reb 1.3ast 1.0stl 1.3blk 2.3TO
Capt's Review: This time last year, Zeller was the guy who essentially opted for the Blake Griffin Gambit - decline to enter the draft as a freshman despite a likely top-5 pick and look to be #1 the next time around. Well, it doesn't look like that's going to pan out, as Zeller's stock has gradually slipped this season to the point where (as of now) he looks to be towards the bottom of the top-ten. Perhaps this is because scouts were hoping to see him improve on his numbers this season but instead saw him stay basically the same - he did improve his defensive rebounding but took a small hit in shooting percentage. Still, I kind of suspect that he's simply been passed up by guys (like teammate Victor Oladipo) who weren't really on the radar a year ago. Offensively, Zeller really can do it all: he can score in the post, he can score off the dribble, he has great anticipation which leads to him getting a ton of putbacks, and he has very good shooting form. Indiana didn't want to let him out of the paint for the most part, so he didn't shoot jumpers in college, but in the NBA he'll likely move to PF where he'll have a good opportunity to show off his stroke. As a rebounder, he's a bit disappointing - he's not great at boxing out and his hands are a bit questionable, a problem which haunts him a bit on the offensive catch as well. Still, he does give a good deal of hustle out on the court and with his height he should be adequate as a rebounder at the PF though it is unlikely to be his calling card. Defensively he is not a paint-protector, another reason to move him to PF and pair him with a shotblocker. I don't want to imply that he's a poor defender - in fact he did a very good job of disrupting what his opponents wanted to do in the paint (it was remarkable how much more aggressively the Hoosier opponents would attack the lane when he was on the bench), it's just that he plays defense on the ground. He doesn't jump on D and he doesn't have a great wingspan. Speaking of jumping, one set of numbers that might help jump Zeller's stock back into the top-5 before all is said and done were his combine athletic testing numbers. Zeller basically blew away all of the other true seven-footers in his athletic combine numbers. Among the 11 participating players 6'10" and up (barefoot) he placed first in all five athletic measurements (standing jump, two-step jump, bench, lateral agility drill, and sprint), and if you extend the range to the 24 players 6'8" and up, he still finished 4th in the bench, 2nd in the two-step jump, and 1st in the other three. Shoot, in his sprint and lateral agility he actually edged out both Trey Burke and Dennis Schroeder. Just stunning athletic numbers for a seven-footer. Combine this with a high basketball IQ and solid fundamentals, and I think that unless his stock moves back into the top five there's a good chance he becomes a steal.
Gilles's Review: Sophomore. Is 7' with only 6'11" wingspan and 8'10" standing reach. Excellent all-around athlete. Played center in college but will have to transition to PF. Indiana had excellent perimeter shooting and he was able to take advantage by moving into free space. Didn't show good jumpshot but his .757 from FT line suggests it might not be that far away. Created pretty well for himself but had trouble finishing against length. Showed better effort on defense this season, but just is not a rim protector. Pretty good defending P&R.
Baja's Review: Zeller surprised everyone, including me, when he opted to return to Indiana for another year. From an experience point of view, it was probably beneficial, but from a financial point of view, it was a mistake. Last year Zeller would have been a top five pick. This year, he is dangerously close to falling out of the lottery. Zeller had a great freshman season, and because of that, expectations were high this year. His problem is that he showed little or no improvement, putting up almost the same exact numbers from his freshman year. Most scouts expected him to dominate, and to be honest, there were games where he struggled, and non more obvious than in the tournament when his team needed him most. Don't get me wrong! Zeller is very skilled, and he's a very good athlete that runs well and has very good leaping ability. His biggest detriment is his extremely short wingspan. At worse, a players wingspan is at least the same length as his height. Zellers is actually a tad shorter than his height, and in my opinion it affects a lot of what he does. On just about every occasion when he was matched up with a center as tall, or taller than him, he struggled to score in the post. This is why I think his future might be at the PF position. He's athletic enough, and his ballhandling skills are more than sufficient for the position. The drawback, is that most of his game is at the basket. He has little in the way of a faceup game, unless its putting the ball on the floor and driving past his defender. For him to be successful at the next level, he needs to develop a consistent jumpshot, which I think he can do. He's a hard and dedicated worker. Defensively, he showed little in the shotblocking dept. Once again, his short arms affect him, as they also do in the rebounding dept, and area where he did improve slightly over his freshman year, but hardly dazzled anyone. There's a part of me that likes Zeller. He has a cool first name, which should count for something. I think at worse he'll be a solid rotational player (think Jason Thompson), and at best, a starter at the PF position if he puts in the work. I just don't see him as a center. Maybe he'll prove me wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.
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