After checking out what I thought of Kendall Marshall, Harrison Barnes and John Henson, it is finally time to look at senior center Tyler Zeller. While for the first three players out of Chapel Hill I could say what they were in a sentence or two, for the seven footer I can say a lot easier what he is not… and that is sexy! And by that I mean he is going to be your typical hard working, blue collar type player that so many teams need and so few analysts talk about. With this young man from Indiana you are going to get a hard working player that will do his part to help the team win, showing up each and every day, both at practice and in games. Sometimes, in this day and age of “potential” and need for the outlandish, the hard working role players are forgotten, and that is a true shame.
Zeller will benefit any team at the next level as he knows how to score, both inside and out, is good as a face up shooter, and while that might not translate into him becoming the first (or second) option for any franchise, it can easily translate into a player that can give you close to a double double for the next decade, whether as a starter or coming off the bench early in the game. This because besides being a pretty decent scorer he can also rebound on both sides of the ball, and will earn himself several easy baskets with his speed down the court. Add to all of this the fact that the 7 footer can shoot quite well from the charity stripe and you can see where both the points and the rebounds can come from.
Does Zeller, who is a pure seven footer while weighing 247 pounds, have things he needs to work on? Sure, one is that he needs to get stronger, especially when working on blocking out bigger/stronger players, while another one is that he needs to go in strong when driving and not shy away from contact. Many times I thought that what could have been “and one” while playing for head coach Roy Williams was just two at the line because he did not finish strong. Especially with his free throw percentage (80.8%). Lastly, he has to work on is the lateral movement as a defender. So, basically, most of the work that the center needs to improve on is on the defensive side of the ball, and it will be interesting to see how much he can improve now that he is at the next level.
In the end, if I had to draw a comparison to someone in the NBA, if Zeller keeps working on his flaws and is chosen by the right team for him, I could see him becoming a player like Brook Lopez. As far as tonight is concerned I see the young man hearing his name called by the Portland Trail Blazers at the 11th spot of the draft. And if not there, then one spot below, the Houston Rockets could also use a center as well. I know that the Detroit Pistons, at the ninth spot, also need a big guy, but I just do not see Zeller being the right player for them. For the future, I see Tyler Zeller having a good career, maybe never as one of the best at his position, but definitely as one of those players that contributes on a daily basis, and that should be good enough to see him in the National Basketball Association for the next decade.