2011 NBA Mock Draft: New Orleans Goes Big with Tyler Zeller at No. 20
New Orleans Looks to Tyler Zeller For Help On the Glass
All signs point to David West declining his player option and testing the free agent waters this summer.
Don't expect the NBA's version of Amtrak to shell out mega millions to keep West from bolting the Big Easy.
If West leaves, the Hornets will find themselves with a major void at power forward.
Enter Tyler Zeller, who teamed with fellow frontcourt star John Henson to turn North Carolina's season around after a painfully slow start.
Like so many of his peers, Zeller lacks beef but is extremely skilled on the offensive end and ready to make a big impact in the NBA.
ESPN Insider Chad Ford went out on a very thin limb while comparing the 6-10 forward to another lanky NBA forward.
"Zeller doesn't have the bulk, strength or defensive toughness needed to be a full-time NBA center. But his ability to run the floor, his soft touch around the basket and his high basketball IQ may make him a poor man's Pau Gasol."
If Zeller is anywhere close to the player Gasol has become, the Hornets might be able to contend for a playoff spot in what figures to be a new-look Western Conference next season.
If there is a next season.
Pro Projection: Let's not let our superlatives run away with themselves here, folks.
Tyler Zeller will never be Pau Gasol, and probably will never be an All-Star caliber player.
At this point, Troy Murphy would seem to be a fairly safe comparison for Zeller. His ability to score and rebound will mask defensive flaws and make him a competent starter for years to come.
For more draft news, check out Bleacher Report's NBA Draft Hub
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