Cody Zeller









For as much hype as there was about Cody Zeller coming into Indiana, he certainly was able to live up to it and perhaps a little bit more. A highly touted signing out of the Hoosier state, Zeller can be credited for helping turning the Indiana program around and breathing life back into it. Zeller had extremely strong freshman year but despite that, he decided to return for his sophomore year. While some may applaud his decision to return in attempts of trying to get a national championship, it may in the end have hurt his draft stock.


At first look, Zeller’s offensive game is what jumps out at first. From the time he stepped onto campus, Zeller had a well-developed post game for his age to go along with very good touch around the rim. He was relied on early and often to be the primary scorer and delivered, scoring at a high rate and doing so efficiently. His main asset at the next level will be his scoring ability. He needs to continue to diversify his low-post game with additional moves but he already has a good foundation. His footwork is very good to go along with his feel while in the low-post.


Zeller can be relied on to be a low-post hub that teams are able to run offenses through due to his good passing ability and smart decision-making. He offers a lot of different looks in the low-post due to his versatility. He also shows the ability to face up and hit shots on a consistent basis.


While not fully on display throughout his time at Indiana, Zeller does have the ability to step out on the perimeter and knock down jump shots. Zeller shows good form and should be able to develop into a consistent mid-range jump shooter as he develops in the NBA. His free-throw rate (at 75% in his two years at Indiana) is also further evidence that he will be a threat from the perimeter as well. He also does possess the athleticism and coordination to take other bigs off the dribble, should they challenge him on the perimeter.


What Zeller might do better than any other big in the draft, is change floors and run in transition. Following in the path of his brother Tyler, Cody is able to get several easy buckets throughout the course of the game in part to his ability to run the floor.


Zeller’s versatile, well polished offensive game isn’t without caveats though. The problem he ran into while in college and will on a nightly basis is finishing vs. longer, more athletic big man. He showed flashes of solving this while in college but he never did enough to erase doubts he’ll struggle vs. better defenders in the NBA. While Zeller is a pretty good athlete for his size, his lack of length and lack of bulk can affect his shot around the basket.


What causes him some limitations on the offensive end; also bring up questions on the defensive end. Zeller is a smart defender who shows good understanding but his physical limitations have question surrounding his defensive ability. Length and strength have caused him similar problems when defending. His strength is still developing, as his lower body doesn’t allow him the ability to yet anchor in the low-post. His short arms (8’10” standing reach, which was a bit better than expected but still short) hurt him when players attempt to finish over him.


His defensive limitations in the middle have caused for some teams to be concerned with his ability to play center and as a result, some teams see him as a power forward. At power forward he would be asked to chase some forwards around on the perimeter but wouldn’t be at a disadvantage down low as he would against bigger, longer, stronger centers.


His limitations also carry over to his rebounding, which is largely average. His rebounding numbers rank near the bottom of the center class and near the middle of the power forward class. He shows good instincts and has a nose for the ball but his physical limitations hinder him in this area. One of his strengths, running the floor, could also be partially to blame for his lackluster rebounding numbers.


In the end, Zeller is another case of a prospect choosing to go back for another year of college and in turn be overanalyzed. Zeller is a prospect whose strengths and weaknesses are clear. He offers high-end offensive potential due to his versatile, polished offensive skillset but his physical limitations cause for concerns on the defense ends. Zeller should be a productive player in the NBA but how productive he will be is the question.