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Steve Clifford: Zeller Has Struggled With The Physical Nature Of The NBA

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(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, Steve Clifford, joins Mac and Jim, a day after the Bobcats held on to knock off the Toronto Raptors.

On Al Jefferson: He’s playing great. He’s done so much work the team’s trainer, Steve Stricker, on strengthening his ankle that he just feels better. He’s stronger, he’s able now to use more of his full array of offensive moves because he can pivot off both feet, which he wasn’t able to do for a while. He’s a professional scorer down there. He’s been double-teamed so much or seen all the coverages and he has the mentality to make the right play. Not only is he scoring very efficiently, but our post up offense is getting better and better.
On Cody Zeller’s struggles: As much as anything he’s learning the NBA game. One of the things that’s been tougher for him is the physical nature of the game. People don’t realize the jump in physicality from even high level college to the NBA. He’s a 20-year old kid playing against these guys that are 26-27 years old. That’s been his biggest challenge on both ends of the court. I was excited about him when we drafted him. I still have the same feelings about his potential and where he’ll be in a year. He’s working hard in the weight room, he’s a diligent worker and the thing that will come out is that his great strength is similar to Josh McRoberts. He plays the game in a way that will make his teammates better. Our offensive plan with him and what he’s working on is his face up jumper and extending his range out to three, hopefully by next year. The next step for him, to become an exceptional offensive player then he would have to develop, a post up game or an elbow/iso game, where you have a chance to go through him.
Coach Clifford also discusses the most capable rookie he’s witnessed, the mind set of targeting the lottery this year, growing a winning culture, Ben Gordon’s minutes and Clifford talks about his mindset as far as doling out minutres, Ramon Sessions getting to the foul line and dunking on LeBron. Finally, Mac and Coach also talk about the Orioles off-season.

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