This past Sunday, in his first game ever as a pro Tyler Zeller, who played in the North Carolina Basketball program for four year manning the middle for head coach Roy Williams, played in the same way I described him in my pre draft commentary… “not sexy“. But not being sexy does not mean that you can not make it in the NBA, and Zeller showed that as well in his debut with the Cavs, going almost 28 minutes with a game high 14 points (5 for 9 ~ 0 for 0 ~ 4 for 5) to go with five rebounds, two TOs and a pts differential of +5. In a tight game played at the Thomas And Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV, which the Cavaliers lost to the Bobcats by the final of 68 to 64, it was nice to watch the former Heel play well in the paint.
As the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft, taken by the Dallas Mavericks and then traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the big guy was a force to be reckon with on both sides of the ball, scoring well and being able to keep control of the paint on the defensive side which included two blocks as well as a few altered shots. Of course this is summer league play and when Zeller hits the court in the regular season the opponents will be much tougher. But for now, for the critics of the young man, his game against the Bobcats proved that the seven footer can play at the next level. It also showed, even though it’s only a game, that the theory of four year players staying in college cause they can not play at the next level is not always true. I truly believe that Zeller is going to be the surprise of the quartet that came out of Chapel Hill, as he has the offensive and defensive skills to be in the pro’s from the get go.
It is very interesting that everywhere I look the former North Carolina basketball player is now listed as a forward/center. Maybe because for four seasons I always thought of him as the man in the middle of coach Williams’ defense, seeing that makes me see that at the next level he could be doing much more for the Cavaliers. Having said that I can not wait to see Tyler Zeller in action in the rest of the games in Vegas and then in the 2012-13 season in Cleveland. Many teams passed on him for one reason or another, but I believe that the Cavs have a good solid player when it comes to the 7 footer. Zeller might never become an All-Star, but he is going to be a player that brings it each and every day.