Observational Study: Cody Zeller

As college basketball’s Journey to the Tourney inches closer to its annual grand finale, the NBA’s scouting personnel are gathering, analyzing, and interpreting all kinds of data in regards to the prospects that they will be making an investment(s) in at the 2013 NBA Draft.

The season of mock drafts, detailed scouting reports, and interviews is almost here, and on that note, I am beginning to put together my personal observations of NBA prospects. There is no specific order that I follow, but I prefer to wait until mid- to late-March to include freshman due to the small sample size. Upon completion,  I will collaborate with the rest of the MyMindOnSports crew in putting together our mock drafts.

Today, I will share my thoughts on the Indiana hometown kid, Cody Zeller.

Cody Zeller (#40)

Sophomore- Indiana University 

Hometown: Washington, Indiana

Height: 6-11   Weight: 240
Likely NBA position: Center
Twitter: @czeller40

 

DraftExpress

NBADraft.net

CBS

InsideHoops

Chad Ford’s Big Board

#4

#3

#3

#6

#9

 Strengths:

Athleticism-

The first things that stands out to me about Zeller is his overall fluidity and ability to move well for a 7 foot big man who weighs 240 pounds. Like his brother Tyler, he runs the floor with ease, often beating the opposing big man, and even some guards, down the floor. He can leak out on the break and even take the ball coast-to-coast, although it wouldn’t be wise to do so (but it speaks to his ability to handle the ball at a fairly decent level). From the start, his rim running ability should serve him well in the NBA and get him a few easy points. Zeller displays good vertical athleticism and has no problem finishing among the trees or completing alley-oops.

Fundamental skill-

Zeller won’t ‘wow’ anyone athletically like Andre Drummond or block shots with the frequency of an Anthony Davis, but one thing is for sure–he will beat his opponent with fundamentals.   He displays the ability to catch any  pass no matter how errant, which bodes well for his NBA prospects. One thing coaches and guards dislike is a big man who can’t catch the ball, but that isn’t an issue for Cody Zeller. Bounce passes, lasers, lobs, you name it– Cody will catch and secure it.  His footwork is also solid, allowing him to execute some very good post moves. Zeller is particularly skilled at utilizing the up-and-under move to fool opposing centers and forwards. He enjoys spinning baseline when overplayed.

What is amazing is that Cody Zeller has only fouled out once in his two seasons at Indiana, and only commits about two fouls a game.

Finishing instincts-

Zeller’s sharp mind isn’t only limited to his off-court efforts;  it carries over onto the court as well. When I watched some film of him, I could see that he has an innate understanding of the geometry of the court. He comes off of pick and rolls very well and knows how to position himself to create an easy passing lane. And when he does receive the pocket pass, he is able to finish with relative ease because of his positioning. If a defender crowds him under the hoop, Zeller smartly uses the rim to protect his shot.

On/Off Court Approach-

Another player may out-muscle Zeller, but whoever he is, he won’t outwork Zeller. Always competing on both ends of the floor, Zeller will catch the eyes of many scouts who enjoy prospects who compete. He always seeks to box out whomever is in the paint and will jump multiple times for a loose ball. Zeller shows great effort while hedging on the pick and roll and has no problem going out on the perimeter to cut off the guards’ path. He is also willing to take charges.

-Salutarian of his high school class, finishing with a 3.97 GPA

-3.44 GPA in the Kelley School of Business, majoring in entrepreneurship and corporate innovation

-Humble person

-Enjoys the college experience, and largely chose to come back for his sophomore because of it

Weaknesses

Strength-

If there is a knock on Cody Zeller, it is that he needs to get a lot stronger. Too often, he gets knocked off-balance on the block even when he scores. Against stronger opponents, he doesn’t get to the spot he desires or gives up deep position because of his inferior bulk. He can definitely put on some muscle once he gets into an NBA weight room, but his shoulders don’t seem to have much room for, say, 20 more pounds of brawn.

Rebounding-

Zeller is an average rebounder for his size. Although he has increased his rebounding total to 8.1 this year (up from 6.6 last year), he still ranks pretty low among others in that category. To put it in perspective, Jamaal Franklin, Isaiah Austin, Kyle Anderson, Anthony Bennett, and James McAdoo all out rebound Zeller, even though they aren’t thought of as elite. Some of the time, Zeller’s inability to get rebounds are do to much stronger players pushing him away or securing better position.

Wingspan-

Measured at 6-8. Myck Kabongo who is only 6-2 (if that) has a 6-7 wingspan. This is one of the reasons Zeller is not an elite shot blocker despite possessing good athleticism and standing 7 feet tall.

Assertiveness-

Many have criticized Cody for not being more aggressive in calling for the ball given his skill and ability to dominate. He may get lost and disappear from the game because he doesn’t receive entry passes from the guards who are also at fault.

Jumpshot-

Cody Zeller has good form on his shot, but has yet to build up enough confidence to go to it on a regular basis. In high school, he made a few jumpers from mid-range, but has not built upon it in college. When he does get a solid jumper, Zeller will be a force to be reckoned with in the league.

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