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.


[polldaddy poll=7158695]


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


  1. Houpgarou

    June 7, 2013 at 10:47 am

    of course the great mystery being, what young vet could dell haul in with #6?   bledsoe, I think most of us would jump on that train without a second look, i would

    ilyasova, has mil given up on him after a rocky season?
    omer asik, if houston wants to clear room for the arrival of dwight?
    this is an area which i have no idea what dell will do but im intrigued

  2. nolafredo

    June 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Took Zeller over trading for young vet. What strikes me about the Trade Up is that it’s murky and unknown. We could trade for someone like Dudley or someone like Jennings, etc.  There is no certainty.  
    If we do end up taking Zeller, would he and Davis switch between the 4 and 5 spots? Or would they be more locked into a specific 4 (Zeller) and 5 (Davis)?

  3. SnowofSX2

    June 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I would like to trade for a Young Vet but not for Jared Dudley. Maybe that’s just me.
    Cody Zeller on the other hand has been killing the combine and workouts according to reports. Having a Zeller/Davis front court would be killer! Plus I like Zeller’s offense

  4. ericsnow

    June 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Trade for a young vet yes trade for a dudley no trade to Denver for Chandler this yrs 1 n a future first or 2 2nd rounders I’m for it n a heart beat but Lakers might not have a lottery pick even with d12 gone

    • SnowofSX2

      June 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      ericsnow Now that’s what I’m talking about!

    • Houpgarou

      June 7, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      like the idea but don’t think they give up that much.  the problem with trading out in this draft is that since its percieved as a weak draft, others want to trade out and the picks don’t have that much value in a buyers market.

      • ericsnow

        June 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm

        U dont think they would think of it even if we package the pick with a aminu sign n trade with a coaching change coming next season they might focus more on defense

      • Houpgarou

        June 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm

        we renounced all rights to aminu, so can’t sign and trade him. 
        unfortunately, denvers need is at sg and the good ones will be gone by 6.  can see them trying to move up to kentavious range, he’d be great on that squad

      • ericsnow

        June 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm

        Cj mccullum might be there at 6 who could play a lot SG n some pt he’s probably won’t drop below top 10 if they fall n love with the guy they could make that move also if Iggy resigns they wont start him

      • Jason Calmes

        June 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm

        Houpgarou ericsnow This is not true. They didn’t pick up the option, but they have his rights. He is a UFA, but they can sign him using his Bird Rights unless they renounce those rights, and they can sign and trade him.

  5. ecolli

    June 7, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I would feel safe taking Zeller if we had a point guard who excels in transition and which is where I think Zeller is at his best.  Vasquez is not that type of point guard.  If we can find that guard then I like the idea of Davis and Zeller running the floor in transition together, it would be monster.  If we didn’t have that guard I would trade the pick (trading would depend on the offer of course)

  6. Caffeinedisaster

    June 7, 2013 at 11:46 am

    The kid already has a back-to-basket and faceup offensive game.  Combine that with killer athleticism.  He will succeed.  Maybe not as a superstar, but already a better offensive option than Lopez.
    Only trade the pick for a veteran like a Bledsoe or various assets to plug holes in the team now/future.

  7. Michael McNamara

    June 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

    At first I will admit that trade looks kinda funky and you would want more than that from a 6th pick usually, but if you don’t love this draft (and for the purposes of this piece Zeller, specifically), that ain’t a bad trade. Dudley is exactly the kind of young vet we need on a solid contract. Spurs kind of player – versatile, can handle the ball, shoot the three, smart defender, etc. 
    Then at 30 you can grab best available player or Eurostash, whatever. Some guys I like: Eric Green as a bench scorer, Glen Rice, Jr., Jeff Withey if he’s there, CJ Leslie, Tim Hardaway, Lucas Nogueria,  Richar Ledo, and Mike Muscala. 
    Small forward position locked down for cheap, now we can go bug after a Center and/or point in FA. Plus that Lakers pick in 2015 really could pay off if young Buss keeps destroying that franchise

    • Chris_wuzhere

      June 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      What about Wilson Chandler, Andre Miller, 27 pick for GV and 6 pick?

    • lsutigers33

      June 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      Michael McNamara agree with the Lakers 2015 as that pick may be solid as the lakers are slowly on a decline, but my question to you is in this offense with so much pick and roll, would a more versatile center who can hit a jumper and run the floor be better than a lopez or even Pek?  From what I remember, our biggest issue with lopez was his foot speed on both ends and lack of jump shot.  We would be small, but more athletic.

    • soulbreaker

      June 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      Michael McNamara Dudley/Reddick are excellent role players i would love have. About the 30th pick or Lakers´ pick, we can pick instead one of the twin Morris, Shannon Brown i think, even Gortat. I love Zeller really do, but our defense with he and AD scares me like hell in short term, in long term is the same problem with Heat now or Boston w/o Perkins, who match with heavy strongs C

  8. Houpgarou

    June 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    curious to hear some people throw some names against the wall, because I can’t think of too many right now.  The one that is making the most sense to me is Asik, as the rockets seem to be the frontrunners for dwight.  asik owed 5M next year then balloon payment of 15 M.  I don’t think an average of  10 is all that much for a big of asik’s quality though, perhaps we would ask for something in return (terrance jones, maybe trob?) for taking that contract off their hand.  obviously they wouldn’t want to put that much money into backup c if they’re signing dwight so trading him would be a priority, and we know morey (smartly) loves those assets on rookie salaries

    • Chris_wuzhere

      June 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Asik’s contract doesn’t have that 15mil year. Rockets renegotiated the contract to pay 8.3mil for 3 yrs.

      • Houpgarou

        June 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm

        man that morey is slick, it seems like that should not be legal if you use a poison pill to steal away a rfa.  still doesn’t really affect my argument, think both sides could benefit

      • Michael McNamara

        June 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

        Chris_wuzhere Not exactly “renegotiated”. Poison pill contracts are poison to the team that has the choice to match, but not to the team signing the player. If Chicago would have matched, they would have had to pay 5, 5, 15 but Houston just gives him 8.3 for three straight years. Same with Lin deal.
        Was stupid of Chicago not to match. They could have traded him for something

  9. JabberWalker

    June 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Maybe this is a weird thread to start this in but why is no one talking about JJ Redick?  To me he seems like the exact kind of player we should be going after. He’s unrestricted, good D, he provides great Gordon insurance (and can play next to him I’d imagine).
    If MCW and Redick are our major moves this offseason I’m a happy camper.
    And then take on Perkins’ terrible contract and get Thabo out of it. I’m not sure what to do with GV or Lopez though as I don’t see them as long-term contributions and both are such good trade assets.  I guess use them to improve the roster below.
    That team is tough and can defend like crazy.  The only thing I don’t like is that it looks like our offense is totally hinging on Gordon and if/when he isn’t playing I’m not sure what would happen.

  10. 504ever

    June 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    You all know Zeller was a very soft player in college? That he is not C? That’s my concern about Zeller. I am not wild about Dudley but, like others, I think there are better young vets we can acquire for the 6th pick.

    • Papa Pelican

      June 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      The Sixers are desperate to trade Evan Turner im for this trade idea at this moment but an change or senery would could work in Evan Favor.

  11. chiefyoungblood

    June 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    How in the world is this so close , this should be the blow out of the tournament.  Everyone realizes it doesn’t have to be for Dudley and some theoretical lakers pick right?  This is a choose your own adventure scenario.    I thought Zerller would be loosing based on the combo of the Syracuse debacle and the fact that the unknown ( in this case the variety of the unknown ) is more inciting than the known,  Zeller  who might not be able to handle length, which the NBA has got a  lot of.    I really liked Zeller coming into the NCAA season , I love a developed Post Game , but I feel the same way about him as I do MCW or even Schroeder their are things I like , but not at 6.  With this Saric drama, and no top 4 slippage the young vet route is the preferred one.

  12. spatching3

    June 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I’ve voted for Cody, but there were a few things missing from this article that probably would have gotten people a little more excited about him as a prospect.
    The combination of his college numbers and his off-the-chart athletic testing makes Cody a can’t miss prospect in a draft class like this.
    Probably wouldn’t hurt to mention that he was the fastest player at the combine and his leaping numbers were the highest recorded by any player taller than 6’9 in combine history. Pretty exciting stuff!

    • Roger.That.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      spatching3 agreed.  Unless Porter or ‘Dipo falls to us my new preferred course of action is to trade back a few slots and snag Zeller.

  13. Roger.That.

    June 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Cody every day and twice on Sundays.  How can you turn down his talent on a rookie deal?

  14. bobmurrell

    June 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Y’all, the titel is ‘trade for a young vet’, not ‘trade for Dudley’. That was just an example.

  15. lsucpolk

    June 8, 2013 at 4:05 am

    I would not at all be disappointed if none of the “top 5” were available, and the Pelicans drafted Cody Zeller.

  16. yaboytonez

    June 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I like Zeller too.

  17. CoReMeGa

    June 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    If we miss out on Pekovic in a sign and trade (which I REALLY want to happen).. I was already thinking about trying to get Dudley and the Polish Hammer (Gortat) for Gordon and the 6th pick! I know Gortat wanted out of Phoenix and I think that Gortat and Davis would compliment each other really well. If we got the 30th pick and LA’s 1st rounder.. I think that’s a great trade!!! Dudley is an underrated player, good defender/team player/3 point shooter.
    We could then use Lopez and the #30 to get back into the lottery, or maybe get another pick for 2014 draft and have 3 first round 2014 picks stashed away!
    Shabazz (Lopez+pick)/Brewer

    • CoReMeGa

      June 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      oh yeah the LA pick was 2015.. oh well.. still nice

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