Sixth Pick Tournament Round One: Cody Zeller vs. Trade for a Young Vet

Published: June 7, 2013

In our final first round battle, James Grayson and Chris Trew go head to head, as Cody Zeller is pitted against the option of Trading for a Young Veteran.

The Case for Cody Zeller (Grayson)

Cody Zeller is the most sure fire thing in this year’s NBA Draft. I can’t imagine that someone who was touted as a possible number-one overall pick could fall so heavily out of favour. That’s what has happened and the reason for that is because people just understand his weaknesses now.

Why is this a bad thing?

For those that don’t know the criticism of Zeller is that he’s not a physical player. After watching Indiana’s match-up with Syracuse people noticed how often Cody failed to finish around the rim. My reasoning behind this is that the 2-3 zone made it much more difficult for Zeller to work laterally and played right into the hands of their taller defenders.

College basketball is a much more condensed game and without the defensive 3-second violation, combined with a smaller court and often players find it more difficult to convert around the basket. But for all the negativity there’s a lot to like about Zeller that really off-sets this. He’s an extremely smart player and can easily work on this facet of his game. In fact, we saw him improve his rebounding numbers by 20% from his freshman season, indicating that he’s not exactly weak.

What can Zeller give you?

I have identified four key strength’s in Cody Zeller’s game that will immediately translate to the NBA game.

            1. Tremendous back-to-the-basket/Face-up game

Zeller has a great ability to work in the isolation and has a number of moves. He can finish over his right shoulder, his left, can face up his defender and attack the hoop with his speed. He has excellent foot-work and knows how to position himself for the score. This is something that none of the other prospects have and is a big reason why people had him going number one.

            2. Run the floor

One of his greatest assets is his ability to run the floor. Something that all the Zeller brothers have is the relentless hustle and effort, but Cody has a better ability to coordinate his way to the basket.

            3. Instant All-Around Impact

Zeller appeals to teams looking for a player who can make an instant impact. He’s a smart guy who works extremely hard at what he does. This draft has uncertainty attached to every prospect, but it is Zeller that provides the most certain qualities in a prospect. He has a well-rounded game that can still be built upon and has much more skills and abilities than his brothers.

Don’t Take My Word for it…

Adam Johnson of “The Crimson Quarry” critiqued Zeller’s snap-shot as a pro:

He’ll contribute from day one but likely not in a major role. He could still put on some muscle and add to the previously discussed physicality. If he’s allowed to play a little more away from the basket I think he could flourish and be a top 20 post player in a few years. I threw out the numbers of 18 pts 8 reb and a couple of assists a night. Though I’m not married to that prediction and can admit it may be a little optimistic.


What the Statistics Say

How often are you going to find a seven-foot center that averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over his career in college? Cody Zeller fits the bill as a consummate pro, in the mould of David Lee.

Many don’t believe Zeller can shoot the ball, but he has potential to do so with his career 75 per cent free-throw shooting ability. Zeller finished 80 per cent of his transition attempts reinforcing his ability to finish strong on the break. This he did at an astounding 1.4 points-per-possession; highly efficient.

But you want to know why Cody Zeller is the best center prospect? It’s his ability to draw free-throws. Zeller led all centers in the nation in FTA’s per-40 mins at 9.7, a ridiculous feat. What makes that even more special is that like we said before he can finish at the line.

This means that you can trust to put an athletic big-man who can draw fouls, convert at the line, run in transition, use his athleticism to hedge on screens, use his footwork in the post and pick and roll, still with some upside.

Why the Pelicans Should Take Him

The NBA draft is not about picking the best fit for the team. That would mean that if you value someone higher you’ll pass on him just because he doesn’t “fit.” While New Orleans has a log-jam at power-forward there’s no reason why they can’t select Zeller.

The notion that Anthony Davis needs to be “protected” is a very backwards one. Zeller, Anderson and Davis can form a trio of skilled big-men that could change the league. It’s not always about what the convention is and if you’re willing to select the best player available, that man should be Cody Zeller.

Check Out Adam Johnson and @CrimsonQuarry as well as James’ Twitter @jsgrayson


The Case for Trading for a Young Veteran (Trew)

So some people aren’t down with “Trade Up”, huh? I get it. It’s risky, it’s bold, it’s a little out there. Allow me to dial it back a tad and do something that’s a touch on the conservative side but still slightly bold as well – like a nightclub in the desert.

The New Orleans Pelicans trade the #6 pick to the Phoenix Suns for Jared Dudley, #30, and Lakers 2015 1st rounder

I’m not going to pretend like I know what we’d do with the 30th pick and you probably shouldn’t either. This draft is going to be unpredictable. I will happily pretend, however, that I know we’d get someone of value and that they would have a chance to succeed in Monty’s system and maybe our 2015 NBA Finals team will have these amazing role players that “just came out of nowhere to do their job” like Darius Miller, Brian Roberts and (insert name of pick #30 here). By the way, that fantasy includes Austin Rivers winning Most Improved Player in 2014 and 2015. You read that right, two years in a row.

Another key part of that fantasy is the addition of Jared Dudley. He strikes me as the kind of guy that would love being in New Orleans. Locals know that you get out of this city what you put into it – I think Jared’s ceiling as a New Orleanian is a Gambit Halloween Cover and a mock campaign for Mayor. His floor is “Owns a Car Dealership in New Orleans East But Makes Some Pretty Fun Commercials”. I bet he’ll open a restaurant with Jason Smith in the CBD. Either way we’d help him with resurrecting JMZ and he’d help us with all this Louisiana Seafood we have lying around.

What happens between this trade and his retirement ceremony? His 11-ish points a game won’t hurt a team that doesn’t score very often. He’s a great locker room presence. Teammates like him. He’s not the kind of guy to demand a trade or complain to the media. Isn’t this perfect? Wouldn’t a young team with Jason Smith and Jared Dudley as the locker room leaders be exciting?

Now let’s have some fun with that Lakers 2015 1st rounder. That team probably isn’t going to be very good next year. How much fun is it to think about them not being good for many more years? We all know the Lakers are gonna be making a play for Lebron and will probably end up with Kevin Durant, a 1997 Karl Malone and a 1996 Gary Payton (somehow) but what if they didn’t? What if they spent the rest of the decade in the cellar? Remember how much fun Tumblewolves was last season? This will be twice as fun and we get to speculate about it twice as long. I’m all about fun. You should be too.

Let’s talk about this Cody Zeller cat. He’s a Libra. According to this completely trustworthy page about Zodiac signs, Libra’s go like this:

Symbol: Scales (as in pounds? Yeah, Cody needs to put on weight but not Shawn Kemp weight. This should terrify you so don’t vote for Zeller)

Life Pursuit: To be consistent (sounds like Cody’s never gonna get any better. He’s peaked. Oh well, you better not vote for Zeller)

Vibration: Unsteady (steadiness is a key trait in professional basketball players? Have you ever seen an NBA player have an unsteady vibration before? I can only name 1 and his name was Dan Dickau so you better steer clear of Zeller)

Libran’s Secret Desire: To live an easy, uncomplicated life (there is nothing uncomplicated about life in the NBA. Have you ever seen an episode of Inside Stuff? Do you follow any basketball players on Twitter? It’s regularly complicated. Zeller is not ready for a complicated lie and he doesn’t deserve your vote)

So, lookie here. It’s a lot more fun to get a guy like Jared Dudley on this team than Cody Zeller. I know it, you know it. Let’s have the most lopsided voting results of this entire tournament right here, right now.


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For past matchups in the Sixth Pick Tournament, click here.


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