PF/C, 7’0″, 230 lbs.
Sophomore, Indiana University
20 years old
2012-13 Stats: 16.5 PPG (56.2% FG, 75.7% FT, 0-2 3FG), 8.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 2.3 TOPG
STRENGTHS: Don’t judge this book by its cover. Cody Zeller is a great athlete who graded out off the charts in nearly every test at last month’s combine. Combine numbers don’t mean everything, but Zeller posted the third best no-step vertical leap of anyone, wings included, and he posted better agility and sprint times than Trey Burke. For a seven-footer, he runs the floor extremely well and is a strong asset on the fast break. Zeller finishes well around the basket with both hands, and his agility allows him to maneuver around defenders to get to the basket. While Zeller wasn’t asked to step outside much at Indiana, he shows great mechanics with his jump shot. This is a part of his game that he has been working on throughout the offseason as he tries to show NBA teams he can stretch the floor.
WEAKNESSES: For all of his athletic gifts, Zeller’s wingspan — a pedestrian 6’10.75″ — limits his upside on the boards and as a shot blocker at the NBA level. Additionally, Zeller needs to add muscle and become tougher. He was pushed around on both ends, and in order to carve out space in the post or battle for rebounds, he’s got to bulk up and battle. Despite his work, Zeller is still unproven as a jump shooter. The big man could also stand to refine his post moves to beat the better defenders he will see in the NBA.
HOW HE’D FIT WITH THE KINGS: Zeller would join a trio of Kings player looking to get minutes down low — DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and Patrick Patterson. Because Zeller doesn’t yet bring a skill set different than those aforementioned players, he’d begin as a reserve playing minimal minutes — of course, it all depends on the rest of the Kings offseason moves. Zeller’s ability to run the floor fits perfectly with the Kings style, but his long-term potential with the team would hinge on his ability to play alongside Cousins. Offensively, it seems to work — Zeller is a crafty player who could pick his spots next to the more offensive Cousins. Defense is another story and Zeller would have to evolve to make it effective.
SCOTT - After much deliberation, no. I’m actually a fan of Zeller and think he can succeed in the NBA. But it dawned on me recently who he reminds me of — Jason Thompson. Not an across the board match, but both are agile big men who can run the floor, pop out, compete on the boards, and are decent defenders but not shot blockers. And while Thompson and Patrick Patterson are certainly not guys you’d turn away talent for, I don’t think Zeller would bring a new dimension to the Kings. In the end, he’s a steady pick but I’d prefer to roll the dice on a player with more potential or fill a need.
BRYANT WEST - No. If the Kings selected Zeller, I would approve, but if I was in Sacramento’s war room he would not be my selection. He’s a very skilled player and I believe he’ll be a fine NBA player for years to come, but the Kings have plenty of other areas to look for improvement in. If Zeller was a better defender/shot blocker, that may swing my vote, but as he is, he doesn’t bring anything to the table that Thompson/Patterson do not.
WHERE HE GOES: Zeller was probably a top-3 pick in last year’s draft had he declared. Now, his ceiling is probably New Orleans (6), who could pair Zeller with shot-blocker Anthony Davis. After the Kings, the Sixers (11) could use some help underneath, and while Zeller probably finds a home in the lottery, the Celtics (16) and Hawks (17/18) would probably be ready to pounce should he fall.
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