The 2013 NBA Draft is just 24 days away Wizards fans, but have no fear, the Hoop District team is here to get you ready! As you already know, the Wiz Kids jumped five spots in last month’s draft lottery to land the 3rd overall pick. In addition to that, Washington owns two 2nd round picks, numbers 38 and 54. But with the 3rd overall pick only 576 hours away and counting, it’s time to dig right into the pool of prospects that could be on the Wizards first round radar. First up we have Cody Zeller from Indiana University.
Cody definitely got the better genes between him and brother Tyler. Cody stands 7 feet tall and 240 lbs. He’s a more explosive, fluid athlete than his brother and his showing at the combine proved just that. Cody had a standing vertical leap of 35.5 inches and a max vertical leap of 37.5 inches, which just so happened to be the best of anyone 6’9″ or taller. Add to that the fact he was the fastest big man there and you can see why he is the more athletically gifted Zeller. His only downfall is his wingspan, which measured at 6’10.75″.
In his two seasons at Indiana, Cody improved both his scoring and his rebounding. He finished his sophomore year averaging 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds while shooting .562 from the field on 29.5 minutes per game. Translate those stats to NBA numbers and he’s rocking a 30.93 PER to go along 22.3 pts and 10.9 rebs per 40 minutes. On paper, Cody stacks up against the best of them.
From the numbers you can see that Cody Zeller can get up and down the court. He’s a very good transition player and can finish above the rim on the break. Cody also has a nice mid-range shooting touch, which scouts have said has really improved since his college season concluded. Zeller played center in college but due to his shorter wingspan and not-quite-NBA-center body, so his position in the pros is more than likely going to be at the 4 spot.
Cody is more than just a transition Vesely-esque player though. He can back you down and score in the post when he’s not out-muscled. Yet another reason why he would be more suited to play power forward in the NBA. Cody also has a high basketball IQ and can find the open man. His only real deficiency is his is shot blocking. For a 7′ big man who moves the way he does, you would like to see Zeller put up more than 1.3 blocks per game.
His Ceiling and NBA Comparison
In the right situation, Cody Zeller will really flourish in the NBA. If not forced to be the number one option as he was at Indiana, Zeller will have a very productive NBA career. Three to five years down the road there’s no reason to think that he wont be putting up 16 pts and 10 rebs a night. We all know he has a tremendous work ethic so, barring injury, I could easily see Cody making some All-Star appearances.
NBADraft.net compares Cody to LaMarcus Aldridge. My comparison would be Chris Bosh. He’s a more fluid athlete and a weaker rebounder a la Bosh. While I don’t think Cody will ever put up the offensive numbers that replicate Bosh’s from his Toronto days, I do think that his numbers will be right in line with his Miami production. Bosh is playing 3rd fiddle for the Heat and has put up averages of 17.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game since taking his talents to South Beach. With Cody playing 3rd fiddle to Wall and Beal, I see Chris Bosh 2.0.
With Emeka Okafor on the wrong side of 30 and in the final year of his contract, and with Nene hobbled by injuries over the years, Washington needs to think about its future in the post. Cody would be a huge improvement over the Wizards current front-court reserves, and with Okafor and Nene still in place, he wouldn’t be rushed into an instant starter. Also, since he is a very good transition player, and is productive on the pick an roll, he seems like an excellent fit with our franchise point guard. J-Wall has even uttered to management that he would like to see a pick and pop four man added to the mix. In the current situation, it certainly seems like Cody would be a great fit playing in the Nation’s Capital next year, so keep an eye out on the “little” Zeller.
All things considered, Cody would be a very nice 3rd option playing in DC alongside Wall and Beal. He puts up good numbers, is an excellent athlete, and plays to win the game. Washington wants to bring in good character players and you would be hard pressed to find a more quality person than Cody Zeller. I don’t expect the Wizards to select Cody as high as 3rd, but if they do happen to acquire a lower pick (perhaps via suspect Ernie trade), Grunfeld should certainly keep his eye on #40 from Indiana.