Tenth Pick Tournament Round Two: Jared Sullinger vs. Tyler Zeller

Published: June 16, 2012

Round 2 comes to a close with a battle of big men.

Jared Sullinger

(By: James Grayson)

Getting Sullinger through to the second round was quite an easy task. His pros and cons were outlined and we shall rehash on those and see why he’s a better candidate than Tyler Zeller.

Jared Sullinger’s pre-draft workout showed that he isn’t as bad a prospect physically as many had predicted. Sullinger has a wingspan of 7’1’’ and his body fat percentage is a surprising 10.7 (many thought it would be much higher than this). This wingspan is actually longer than that of his 7 foot counterpart Tyler Zeller who’s is 7’0’’.

Physical attributes aside Sullinger should be going through for 3 reasons.

  1. Best post-up game in the draft class

We talked about this before, but I feel like it needs to be refreshed in your minds. While some will try to convince you Zeller has a post-game, the truth is it doesn’t hold up well in comparison to Sullingers.

Monty Williams has talked at length about how the Hornets need a low post option. Chris Kaman will almost certainly depart (as will Landry) leaving a massive void down low. Late in the shot clock a low post option is essential and the Hornets will need one moving forward. This is why Sullinger should be selected, not Tyler Zeller.

2. Perfect Complement to Anthony Davis

With the Hornets selecting first in this year’s draft, they’ll need to put someone next to him either right now, or for the future. Sullinger is such a complement to Davis’ game that it makes a lot of sense to have them the front court of the future for New Orleans. While Davis is athletic and can block shots, Sullinger can handle an offense load that will be demanding. I expect these two guys, if both selected, to balance each other’s games nicely.

3. Immediate Impact Player

One of the greatest criticisms of Jared Sullinger has always been his height. While you would expect that to of hindered his performance at the college level, it didn’t. There’s no great difference in the heights of the college game and that in the NBA. There have been a lot of players who have been labelled as undersized, yet have worked out a niche in the league. If Sullinger is playing power-forward I expect him to be able to make an immediate impact in this league, whether he’s selected by the Hornets or any other organisation.

It would be a great shame to see Jared Sullinger go elsewhere in the NBA. But, I feel like you, our loyal, passionate readers, will make the correct decision by selecting Sullinger over Zeller as the Hornets 10th overall selection in this year’s NBA draft.


Tyler Zeller

(by Mason Ginsberg)

Before I begin, there are three numbers that you all need to know, as well as those
numbers’ significance. They are:

10.7%, 12.77, and 3.81.

What do they represent, you ask? Jared Sullinger’s body fat percentage, agility workout time, and ¾ court sprint time at the NBA draft combine about a week ago. What do they all have in common? Among all projected first round picks, Sullinger ranked last in each category (last out of the entire combine in the two speed-related workouts). He was even second to last among all listed power forwards and centers in the strength workout, beating out only John Henson.

I’m not here to tell you that these draft combine workouts are the only key to projecting how a player’s career will turn out. I am here to tell you, however, that Hornets fans should be very wary of these measurements before clamoring for their team to draft Mr. Sullinger. Those measurements may not lead you to believe it, but Sullinger actually improved his physique significantly before his most recent college basketball season. That sounds nice and all, but if the result was still finishing in the bottom of the rankings in his draft class, it’s clearly not a good sign for his potential.

Mr. Grayson probably argued that Sullinger’s game does not require elite athleticism; however, I beg to differ. The league is getting more athletic in the paint, and Sullinger will undoubtedly have a much more difficult time scoring down low in the NBA than he had in college. He could compensate for his lack of athleticism if he had any sort of size advantage, but at 6’9” in shoes, he won’t stand out over most of the big men who match up with him. This doesn’t even take into account the trouble that his lack of agility and mobility will cause for him on the defensive end; can you see Sullinger successfully defending a pick and roll? Yeah, me neither.

In a nutshell – if a player’s biggest strength in college is also his biggest question mark in regards to whether or not he will be successful in the NBA, then that player is far too risky to draft with a top-10 pick. Jared Sullinger is a prime example of this concern, and as a result, it would be foolish to take that kind of chance when there will be other players available without such concerns.

One of those players is none other than… you guessed it, Tyler Zeller! Ironically enough, Zeller is everything that Sullinger is not, and additionally possesses a post game that could be better than Sullinger’s given his superior height and quickness. I broke down some of Tyler’s advanced stats as well as skill sets in his defeat of Meyers Leonard, but the one thing that needs to be emphasized again is how perfect of a fit he would be with the Hornets, compared to how poorly Sullinger fits with Monty Williams’ coaching philosophy.

Should Sullinger’s game end up allowing him to be a successful low post threat in the NBA, then he could theoretically be a very nice pairing with Anthony Davis in a half court offensive setting. That doesn’t mean, however, that he would be an ideal fit with the Hornets as a team. The second Anthony Davis puts on that Hornets uniform, the team will become one that is even more focused on defense turning into offense. To assume Sullinger will be a significant contributor to the Hornets’ defensive game plan, and then furthermore, to expect him to be able to run with the rest of the team in transition after getting stops, are wildly unrealistic hopes. Switch him out with Zeller – a guy who is a full three inches taller, a good athlete, and a player who runs the floor better than any other big man in this draft class – and suddenly, you have something to get really, really excited about.

Speaking of fit – how has the question of where Sullinger’s minutes will come from not been addressed? Zeller is a legit 7 foot center who can be a solid backup to Okafor, and eventually his successor (not to mention a much cheaper alternative, providing major salary cap benefits). Sullinger is just another power forward, getting in line behind Davis, Ayon, and Smith. Drafting Sullinger and giving him minutes would likely mean playing Smith at center, a position where he struggles to both defend and rebound, instead of his more natural power forward position. In this respect, Zeller clearly makes much more sense as well.

Whether you’re focused on team need, team fit, risk aversion, or just probability of having a respectable NBA career, Tyler Zeller is clearly the better choice for the New Orleans Hornets.



  1. DREWBEEZ989

    June 16, 2012 at 8:22 am

    i vote for neither LOL. Sully has a post game ,but is a liability else where. Look how easily the Thunder took away the post game of LA. They just crowded the paint and on misses out ran Bynum. Sully will get victimized in transition and on the pick and roll. I look at like this. If Sully maxes out his ceiling is karl llandry.Period. while bigger he is less athletic. Landry is not a starter on a contending team. Which brings me to Zeller. Arguing that Zeller is a legit center now is ridiculous. The man weighs 69 lbs, come on. Maybe in a few years he will fill out. Maybe not. Right now he is Jason Smith without the consistent jumper. Guess what. We already have one of those!!!!!We should go guard in the draft. #teamrivers or#teamlilard.

  2. George

    June 16, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Sullinger’s stock going into this season was a lot higher and even through most of the season most mock drafts had him going in the top 5 I am scratching my head as to why he is now predicted to go so low. He is a smart player and will find a way to be effective at the next level.

  3. mojart

    June 16, 2012 at 8:52 am

    i vote for neither too….

  4. Jason Calmes

    June 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

    You do realize that if you want a guard, you can just.vote for one in round 3 or round 4, right?

    Voting for one over the other is not inconsistent with eanting a guard more than either.

  5. Michael McNamara

    June 16, 2012 at 9:28 am

    If Zeller’s wingspan was 2-3 inches longer, it would have been an easy choice for me, but his lack of length and bulk worry me a little bit. But does that worry me more than Sullinger’s P & R defense? That is the question.

    If the Hornets really were debating between these two guys, would be nice to bluff like we were taking Waiters or Rivers and make PHX trade up fro 13 and give us an extra asset, then take one of these guys there. But if the Hornets are on the clock and he tells me it is a coin flip between these two and I am the deciding vote, I think I take…. man,I just don’t know.


    June 16, 2012 at 10:03 am

    -Sully has the best footwork on the block for PFs
    But he’s short and can struggle with weight issues

    -Zeller has the best footwork on the block for Cs
    But he’s white (if the kid was black all of yall would be drooling over this kid, see Drummond) and he’s light in the azz!

    *Dont sleep on Zeller, at 7’0 he has the best moves & footwork for a C, and he’s a rebounder/defender! Plus he likes to run on the fast breaks which most Bigs rarely do. The kid can be a 18p & 12rebs guy!

    • NOH Domination

      June 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      The day Tyler Zeller is averaging 18 and 12….

  7. James McPherson

    June 16, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I find it interesting that the debate on these two players is almost entirely a philosophical one: low-post production vs. the athletic break. Part of me fears that Monty’s general approach to offense is that slow & steady wins the race … and that Davis’ unique skill-set *may* not be put into the most productive system for him to flourish. Low-post points are good to fall back on, but the general trend of the NBA seems to be elite athleticism and open court play. Just look at the two teams in the Finals! I voted for Henson, even if he is hardly the shining example of athletic talent outside of a comparison to Sully.

    • Josh

      June 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

      Henson? He’s not even in this matchup.

      • James McPherson

        June 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        Sorry, I meant Zeller. Too many stinkin’ Tarheels in the draft. My oops.

  8. DREWBEEZ989

    June 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

    To be a good team you need to be able to attack in multiple ways. However, if the guy(sullinger) that gives you that mulitplicity (low post scoring), also gives you a glaring weakness ( defensive agility, speed ), then one must ask is he the right guy. Similarly, if another guy( zeller ) has the same skill set as one of your backups (j-smitty), then the question must be asked is he worth the tenth pick in a deep draft. So i again will vote for neither. I know its a cop out. So, i’ll gladly get my coffee and doughnuts and wait for some jerk to speed by to catch him with my radar.

  9. NOH Domination

    June 16, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Easy pick

  10. NOLA Hustle

    June 16, 2012 at 11:35 am

    zeller great on break (which we will hopefully be doing a lot of this year), zeller can guard centers, not sure how you can label a guy who cant the perfect complement to ad, zeller has the j to stretch the d from 5 spot, can playnpick and roll with gordon well, sets good screens

    i like sully’s defense of himself, that zbo and klove arent athletic and they have excelled in the league, but its not enough for me. i like zeller

  11. NOLA Hustle

    June 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

    havent watched a ton of sully, but did attend semifinals in the dome, and he was pretty unspectacular.

  12. David

    June 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Unspectacular? He was 5-19 for 13 points. His ‘SPECTACULAR POST GAME” that all of his proponents tout couldn’t get a decent look over the immortal Jeff Withy. He is absolutely worthless on defense, and doesn’t fill a need for us. If we play Sullinger at the 4, we have to play AD out of position at the 5. If we play sullinger at the 5, not only is he slow and unathletic, but now he’s guarding guys 3-4 inches taller than him. I don’t think it’s close here, even though I don’t love Zellar either.

    • NOH Domination

      June 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Say what you want about Withy but he was a great defender last year. Second only to AD in blocks. Oh and AD went 1-10 against him in the championship game last year so Anthony Davis obviously sucks too.

  13. 504ever

    June 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Again, two of my top 4 matched up against each other early. I’d be happy with either guy… after we get a PG through the draft or a trade.

    My choice, by a nose, is Sullinger. He has great low post positioning and footwork, and I think he put on too much weight this season. Reduce his weight and I suspect his body fat percentage, agility time, and sprint time each go down. The Sullinger I expect to see in the NBA is the one who player in college a season ago.

    But if we get a later pick, after we get a PG, I’d be happy if we land Zeller.

  14. Jordy

    June 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Zeller. I love a big who can run the floor. Sullinger obviously will never be that type of big.

  15. CharmedHive

    June 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Arnett Moultrie, so enthusiastic about the connection he made with coach Monty Williams at the Hornets workout, is openly rooting for New Orleans to take him at No. 10. One of the obvious questions/reasons it may not happen: Would they take Moultrie, the Mississippi State power forward, and Anthony Davis in the same lottery.

    I’m so glad to hear how much these guys love Monty!!! I definitely think he’s a keeper and a great man and coach. Although I think it’s highly unlikely/impossible that we draft moultrie, it’s nice to at least hear that some guys would want to play in NO. It’s a nice change from always hearing negative comments about our city. #GeauxHornets

    • Josh

      June 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      I was about to say that Arnett Moultrie was interested, too.

  16. Michael McNamara

    June 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    DraftExpress has their Zeller video up now. Good breakdown of pros and cons. Talked to Mike, who was on our podcast last week, and he said he will do the Sullinger one Mon or Tues:


    • Jordy

      June 17, 2012 at 7:59 am

      Great video. Most of the negatives can be fixed with coaching and time in the weight room. I remember watching the combine and heraing the analysts say that these guys are just learning to train like pros. Zeller can add the size and strength he needs to become a better post defender.

      The one thing I hate about draft express is the Ceiling/Floor comparison. How can you say that Zeller’s ceiling is Greg Monroe? Monroe has been in the league a whole 2 years. He hasn’t reached his ceiling yet. It’s silly. Greg Monroe’s ceiling was Brad Miller. Monroe averaged 15 pts and 10 rebounds this season, something Miller didn’t do until his seventh year in the league. I think it’s safe to say Monroe will exceed his ceiling.

  17. mazonmafia

    June 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    It would be nice to see some advance stats on sullinger’s defense. I dont remember him being a liability with ohio st. Obviously defending the more athletic players in the nba is different but still…

  18. mazonmafia

    June 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Ps. Its really weird how close jared sullinger’s stats are compared to kevin love’s at ucla. Not that sullinger is going to have that type of impact in the nba but I remember people saying that kevin love was going to bust b/c of his lack of height and athleticism… sullinger is projected to go somewhere around where love went… Hmmm…….

    • mazonmafia

      June 16, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      “For all his skill on the low block, Love does run into some problems in the post, specifically when he’s going up against a longer defender. He is prone to having his shot blocked, and has trouble trying to score over bigger defenders.”

      From DraftExpress.com http://www.draftexpress.com#ixzz1y0ZbQAAP

      Sound familiar??

      • nola hustle

        June 18, 2012 at 11:19 am

        yes but love blew up by further developing his long range marksmanship (already v good in college) and his otherworldy rebounding knack, not catching the ball in the post. sully hasn’t shown any signs of doing one of those

      • Dr. J

        June 18, 2012 at 7:22 pm

        As a badger fan, I actually saw Sullinger play a fair amount in Big-10 games, and I have to say I’m pretty optimistic about his developing long-range game. Although I don’t know his numbers off-hand, and I’m sure he didn’t light it up from downtown last year, he showcased very good shot mechanics in games I saw when he did extend outside. I think he could develop a Love-esque type of game–not saying he’ll necessarily be such a beast on the boards, but he could be pretty successful.

      • mazonmafia

        June 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm

        He shoot 40% from three. In the same range as lillard, j lamb, marshall, etc

  19. Zombian

    June 16, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Required viewing. Zellar, Marshall, Barnes, Henson, and Rivers are all here.


  20. champsworld504

    June 17, 2012 at 4:38 am

    I wish they had a neither selection, but they didn’t. So I picked sully cuz of bulk

  21. buzz

    June 17, 2012 at 5:05 am

    No contest, we cannot sleep on sully if we end going big, we’d be crazy to.

  22. kfte

    June 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I would take door number 3. Too poor choices. I would take Moultrie over those 2 stiffs.

  23. Anonymous

    June 18, 2012 at 2:25 am

    Why does the second guy always do more of ‘don’t vote for the first guy’ than ‘vote for this guy’? Based off of that, I’d pick Sullinger, but as basketball enthusiast, I know Zeller is a much more logical choice. He could man the center position until Davis bulks up. Sullinger has a small chance of success. I can only think of two guys with his game that are successful. Glen Davis and Brandon Bass. I guess you can throw in Dejuan Blair too. High risk, average reward. Early 20s in the first round to me.

    • Jason Calmes

      June 18, 2012 at 6:04 am

      I went second in only one of my three articles:


      I think you’ll find the balance acceptable. However, Leonard lost.

      Reasons for doing more of this include battling the hype. I probably should have knocked Zeller more since he was more hyped, had more name recognition from his school, and was taken sooner in more mock drafts. These things matter more than most rhings we can say when it comes to voting… look at the results. Where was the upset? Look at the comments that show that the arguments are not even being read by some. This is expected to some extent.

      So how do you battle hype? Less logical appraisal that will be dismissed because the people that are called morons for most Hornets coverage by readers are now experts on the draft needs of the Hornets and every other team, more chatter about the player they were told to, and do, prefer.

  24. nikkoewan

    June 18, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Sullinger for me, and it was never close.

    I agree with Anonymous though. Writers should focus more on why they need to vote on their guy than do not vote for the other guy. Its way more proactive and way more insightful than re-hashing weaknesses that the other writer SHOULD have tackled as well

    • Mason Ginsberg

      June 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      If we approached this tournament in the way that you suggest, wouldn’t it become fairly redundant? The point is for it to be a showdown against the other player, with each matchup providing unique opportunities to explain specific areas in which one player excels and another struggles. If we were to stick to just evaluating our player, it would seem unnecessary to have more than one post on each.

      • nikkoewan

        June 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm

        Hmmm.. there is some truth to that. But it just seems that writers no longer talk about their players in comparison to the other player. Maybe that’s just me 🙂

      • Jason Calmes

        June 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

        The good old days… last week!

  25. Michael McNamara

    June 18, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Again, think of these as Dell vs. his scouts or Monty in the “war room”. If they bring up two guys, they are not going to just list all the positives about them. Monty will say, “You know I really want X because he gives me this and that, where Y guy doesn’t get to the line and doesn’t….”

    That’s how these things go down, and sometimes they get heated. There are tons of sites that will give you straight forward, boring draft prospect profiles. Literally, tons.

    Only Hornets247.com has the 10th pick tournament!

  26. Dr. J

    June 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I see Sullinger possessing a game somewhat similar to Kevin love. I think he could make that type of transition in terms of physique and perimeter game. Can’t predict that he’ll be that successful obviously–especially on the boards, but I’m surprised more people don’t feel the same way. Granted I saw a fair amount of Big-10 basketball so I’m pretty high on Sullinger.

  27. NOS-3RD GEN

    June 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I still would take SULLINGER. To Me I see him being our next David West Jr.

  28. Z

    June 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    you should draft dee bost out of mississippi state or arnett moultrie. Those guys are the real deal…

  29. Pingback: Tenth Pick Tournament Semi-Finals: Perry Jones III vs. Tyler Zeller vs. Trade Up | New Orleans Hornets | Hornets247.com

  30. Pingback: Jared Sullinger – Not a Lottery Pick in the 2012 NBA Draft | Sportige

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