Name: Cody Zeller Age: 20 School: Indiana
Height: 7’0 Weight: 230 Projected Position: PF/C
16.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.3 bpg, 2.3 tpg (29.5 minutes per game)
56.4 FG%, 75.7 FT%, 62.4 TS%
12.3 OREB%, 18.8 DREB%, 15.8 TREB%, 26.5 USG%
SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN
Zeller’s post-game is more about skill and finesse rather than power. Zeller does a good job setting position on the low blocks, getting low with a wide base and setting a target to receive a pass. He is at his best when he can get a quick shot or make a quick move past his defender. He has developed a nice jump hook over either shoulder, as well a solid baseline dropstep which allows him to get to the basket. Where Zeller struggles is when being defended by longer and/or stronger players. He has the athleticism to still make his move, but he needs to work on the strength to finish. Zeller has also looked to combat this by going to a lot more face-up moves, either shooting the short jumper or looking to take his man off the dribble. Zeller’s footwork improved from his freshman year, though at times his movements can be awkward, especially when going to his left hand.
Zeller is an average ballhandler for his size, doing a good job minimizing the amount of dribbles he takes, and keeping the ball low and shielded from the defender. He is much more comfortable with his right hand than his left, though the left continues to improve significantly. Zeller seems to still be getting comfortable with his ballhandling when driving from the perimeter, but the improvement over one year has been considerable.
Zeller has very good touch around the basket, and he is capable of finishing with either hand and shoot over either shoulder. Even when close to the basket, Zeller is “shooting” the ball as opposed to throwing it towards the rim in the way many young big men do. Zeller also has the potential to be a legitimate threat from the mid-range area. He does a good job getting square to the basket, has a high release, and good arc and follow-through. Zeller needs to become more comfortable taking his shot in the mid-range area, and not hesitate. With his mechanics, and eventually added strength, there is no reason to doubt that Zeller can become a legitimate threat from 20+ feet.
Zeller has a good nose for the ball in offensive rebounding situations, and he does a good job getting to the spots he needs to, but he needs to get stronger so he can establish position around the basket. Zeller needs to work on using his lower body to box out and establish leverage.
Zeller has very good court vision out of both the high and low posts. For the most part, he makes strong passes to the perimeter, and on target enough to allow his teammate to get a quick shot off. Zeller needs to work on anticipating the need to make a pass, especially against double-teams on the low blocks.
Free Throw Shooting
Zeller is a good free throw shooter, with a consistent routine and form, as well as good follow-through. What is most impressive about Zeller is his ability to draw fouls when he gets the ball around the basket. This past season, Zeller had .75 free throws for every 1 field goal attempt, which is a fantastic amount for a college player, and converting on 75% of those free throws added up to a lot of points for Indiana over the course of a season. While he is still developing strength for the NBA post, he is still capable of getting into the lane and drawing contact.
Zeller has always been an above-average post defender, but he has shown that he is capable of being much better. He positions himself well in the post, and he uses his upper body to put pressure on the offensive player. He can deny the post when needed, but prefers to on the player’s dominant side, forcing them to go long around him if they want to make a move into the lane. He needs to work on using his lower body better to anchor his position, and using it to force his man away from the basket. His footwork has improved, but he can still be a step slow against quicker offensive players, and his lack of foot speed combined with his preference to shadow towards the inside shoulder leaves him susceptible to dropsteps along the baseline. When his man faces up, he does a good job not coming out too far and making his man have to score from the perimeter. Zeller does a good job hedging out on high pick-and-rolls, forcing the ballhandler to take a wide path around, though he needs to work on being quicker spotting and recovering to his man after he pops out or rolls to the basket. In general, Zeller has good defensive awareness, but I would like to see him more vocal and assertive when surveying what the offense is doing from his vantage point.
Zeller doesn’t have the foot speed and lateral quickness to defend smaller, quicker players on the perimeter, but he makes sure to position himself in a way which allows him to prevent getting beat off a first-step while also allowing him to close on perimeter shots. If he is caught out in space, a decent ballhandler should be able to beat him with a few dribbles, so Zeller will need to work on understanding angles so he can recover if beat on the first step.
Help Defense/Shot Blocking
Zeller isn’t necessarily known for his ability to block shots, but he has the athletic ability and skill to be a good shot-blocker. He can be slow to react to shots and the timing of his extension could use some tuning. He is very good as a weakside and basket help defender, and he uses his length well enough to alter opposing shots. Zeller also does a good job staying out of foul trouble by not looking to block every shot that comes his way.
Zeller can be very good on the defensive boards, but with added strength, he can be even better. He is very good at understanding where he should be positioned for rebounds depending on the shot, and he is quick to get to the ball after the miss. He does a good job going strong after the miss, extending his arms to get the ball up high, and securing it. However, Zeller needs to do a better job boxing out, especially looking to use his lower body instead of his arms to get position.
Zeller runs the floor well on the offensive break and he is capable of getting out in front of the defense and finishing, or coming in as a secondary option. He goes strong to the rim and can draw contact. Zeller is very good at creating a target for passes on the break and makes sure to keep his head up looking for the ball.
The big knock on Zeller was his lack of ability to finish against length, but his skill level more than makes up for it. Zeller is athletic, but needs to build strength. Once he has that combination, he will be able to score in the paint at the NBA level. Until then, Zeller is capable of moving do different spots on the floor, and his ability to see the floor would make him a good option at the high post in some offenses. Defensively, he has work to do, especially on the perimeter, but he has a good understanding and he makes adjustments quickly. And we can’t overlook Zeller’s ability to run the floor; Zeller runs the floor as well or better than any big in this class. Highly skilled, high basketball IQ, and coachable; all make it tough to pass up Zeller if you need a big man.
Draft Value: Early 1st Round – Early-Mid Lottery – #3-8
Zeller’s versatility will make him attractive to many teams, and he is skilled enough to play significant minutes immediately. The strength should come as he matures, as well as tightening up on defense, and when they do, he could end up the best big man in this class.
Leave your comments below, or email me – [email protected]
Follow me on Twitter – @NBADraftBlog