NBA Draft 2013: Analyzing Pro Potential of Cody Zeller

Aaron Siegal-EismanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2013

NBA Draft 2013: Analyzing Pro Potential of Cody Zeller

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    Cody Zeller has become one of the most dominant big men in the country. He brings lots of good qualities to the court and is one of the main reasons for the Hoosiers' success. From scoring points down low to running the court to making other players around him better, Zeller does it all.

    Although Zeller is only a sophomore, draft sites like Draft Express and Hoops World have him going in the Top Five in the 2013 NBA draft. It depends on whether or not Zeller decides to leave early. Zeller could receive immediate time on the next level because of his skills, size and high basketball IQ.

    This past Saturday against Michigan, Zeller recorded 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Even though people doubted him as the National Player of the Year, he showed the country why he is still one of the top players.

    Zeller needs to improve in certain areas, but he has many qualities that translate well into the NBA. Zeller will be a good player on the next level because of the potential that he can bring to the pros.

Excellent Finisher in the Paint

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    Zeller does a very good job of making his presence known each and every game. Whether he's making easy buckets down low or getting offensive boards to create second chance opportunities, Zeller plays a big role for the Hoosiers inside game.

    The most important thing is that he is an efficient scorer. Zeller shot 8-for-10 from the field in the Michigan game and provided three put-back dunks off missed shots. He doesn't take bad shots and makes good decisions when he's in the paint.     

    Also, the Washington, IN, native has a fast inside move that has become difficult for opposing teams to defend. He makes a quick first step to the hoop that leads to buckets, getting fouled or and-one plays. His inside playmaking ability has been one of the reasons why he has been a valuable asset to the Hoosiers.

Runs the Floor Very Well

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    Zeller has shown time and time again that he does a great job of running the floor on transition offense. When the Hoosiers push the pace, Zeller tries to get open for easy baskets before the opponent's defense gets set.

    Most teams in the country don't have a player over 6'8" who can run the court as fast as Zeller. His ability to catch the ball and make smart decisions on transition offense has been seen numerous times this year. This is one of the main reasons why NBA scouts see Zeller taken early in the draft. 

Solid Rebounder

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    Zeller does a good job of using his size to grab boards. He has helped turn the Hoosiers into a Top 20 rebounding team in the country. Zeller ranks second in the Big Ten conference behind Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe with 8.3 rebounds per game.

    Zeller fights down low to get offensive rebounds, which is a quality that NBA teams like to see. He made a crucial offensive board with less than two minutes to go against Michigan. He boxes out opponents well to get a better angle for a rebound.

    His strength and added weight have helped him rebound more efficiently. Zeller has added almost 40 pounds to his body since his freshman year. This has helped against bigger centers. He is averaging almost two rebounds per game more than last year. 

Great Free Throw Shooter for a Center

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    Most centers in the NBA are notorious for not shooting free throws well. However, Zeller has been excellent from the charity stripe. He has shot over 70 percent in his two seasons at Indiana. Currently, Zeller is almost 74 percent from the line, which is in the Top 15 in the Big Ten.

    Four of the last five games, he has shot 75 percent or higher from the free-throw line. Although shooting free throws isn't a big skill that NBA scouts look for, Zeller does a very good job for a big man. He needs to continue to show his ability to hit free throws at crucial times in upcoming games.  

Necessary Improvements for the Next Level

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    Zeller does have things that need to be worked on for the next level. Improving his mid-range jump shot would certainly help. At times, he has shown that it's been a struggle taking shots outside of the paint. 

    Next, Zeller needs to add more pounds because he will get outmuscled on the next level. Zeller struggled occasionally against Michigan State's Derrick Nix, who has 30 pounds on Zeller. Nix was able to use his body to back down Zeller and make moves down low for easy baskets.

    Zeller brings so many different assets to the court, which makes him a very good overall player for the Hoosiers. Zeller will be a Top Five pick if he decides to leave after this year. Zeller needs to continue to make an impact on the court and help the Hoosiers try and cut down the nets in April.