Get To Know: Cody Zeller
When the Bobcats drafted Cody Zeller 4th in the 2013 Draft, fan reaction was a little … negative.
With big names like Nerlens Noel, Alex Len and Ben McLemore still on the board, Bobcats fans were perplexed at the pick of the good-if-unsexy pick of Zeller. Why?
A closer look shows just why. Owner Michael Jordan and GM Rich Cho were no doubt enamored with Zeller’s combine credits: Testing well above average in strength, agility and quickness.
Zeller had a decorated career at Indiana University, earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2011. He was the third highest scorer in the Big Ten (16.8 ppg) and team leader in rebounds (8.1 rpg) and blocks (45) in 2012 before entering the NBA draft.
There are concerns about Zeller’s ability to be a true stretch Power Forward in the NBA, with concerns about his jumper. Working as a Center at Indiana didn’t give Zeller as many opportunities to showcase his shooting. The offseason acquisition of C Al Jefferson (perhaps already the de facto greatest player in Bobcats history) will take pressure off of Zeller to work inside and give him better opportunities to stretch the floor. Zeller’s quickness and extremely high basketball IQ (the one thing scouts agreed on across the board) gives him a great chance to be an above average defender out of the gate, assuming that he adds some muscle to his frame.
Perhaps the most promising aspect of Zeller’s career so far has been his performance in the NBA summer league. Zeller was named to the all-tournament team, averaging 16.3 ppg and 9.3 rpg (by contrast, Kings guard McLemore struggled, shooting 33.3% from the floor, 19.4% from beyond the arc).
Thus far, Zeller has been a model athlete and has embraced his new hometown. Zeller has hyped up UNC Charlotte’s football team in their inaugural season on his Twitter account and has said all the right things about working hard in interviews.
With the season weeks away, it remains to be seen how much of a contribution Zeller makes in his rookie season. He has a lot of naysayers to prove wrong. Fans expecting the next Adam Morrison or Sean May should probably be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.