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Top Frontcourt Prospects: Cody Zeller

Will Zeller's offensive abilities be enough for Charlotte to select him with the #4 pick or will they look in another direction?


The overall progression of Kemba Walker as Charlotte's go-to offensive weapon is probably the team's biggest factor as they look toward the future. Although Kemba did improve immensely between the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and this previous season, there's still a piece that's missing from his offensive arsenal. Most teams have transitioned to an offensive scheme that's built around the pick and roll because a good majority of frontcourt players in the league are capable offensive players that can cut to the basket or shoot the mid-range jumper. The reason why I say "most" frontcourt players is because Charlotte lacks any real offensive presence in the frontcourt. Last season, 75 percent of Charlotte's offensive production came from the backcourt (Kemba, Henderson, etc) so it's extremely necessary for the team to look for somebody who can work with Walker in a pick and roll.

Cody Zeller

One of those possibilities could be Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller, one of the more offensively polished prospects in this year's draft. Despite not making much improvement between his freshman of sophomore seasons, he still remains an intriguing player because of his all-around scoring ability both in and out of the post. At 6'11", Zeller is one of the more fluid and agile bigs in this draft, which would make him a great pick and roll partner with Kemba because they can work together on screen and rolls. Though Zeller didn't show a great deal as a mid-range shooter, he has a solid-looking jumper that could definitely transition to the NBA.

Where Zeller works best as an offensive player is deep down in the low post. He isn't the strongest or longest player out there (6'10 wingspan), but he's still able to use his snake-like agility to slither his way around the opposition with quick spin-moves and a soft touch around the basket. Using both shoulders, Zeller can launch a nice 8-10-foot hook shot that made him a threat every time he touched the ball. However, there is concern that his lack of strength will prevent him from working against some of the strongest players in the league. Regardless, he still has the agility to work around defenders for scoring opportunities.

Defensively, Zeller is fundamentally sound but his lack of strength and length could put the odds against him. He was regularly pushed around by some of the strongest frontcourt players in the Big 10 (i.e Minnesota's Trever Mbawke), so is not without detractors who say that it'll be worse when he goes to the NBA. Although that could be true, he's still quick and agile enough that he could work his way as a solid pick and roll defender, where he shows great poise.

Fit with Bobcats

Offensively, Zeller would be a great fit for Charlotte because of the potential that he can have when he's paired up with Kemba Walker. As I've previously mentioned, Zeller's agility and overall offensive ability will give Kemba a pick and roll partner he hasn't seen in his first two seasons with the Bobcats. Walker could either dish it out to a cutting Zeller in a screen and roll or work with him around the perimeter in a pick and pop. He didn't show much in terms of perimeter shooting while with Indiana but there are reports out there which shows that Zeller is improving in that facet of the game.

If drafted at No. 4, Zeller will be immediately looked at as Charlotte's top offensive frontcourt weapon. His lack of strength and length might be an issue in the NBA but he'll probably be inserted as a stretch power forward in a mold similar to Dirk Nowitzki or Ersan Ilyasova. That move would give him a major edge over the opposition because of his 6'11/7'0 frame. Though there might be better players available when Charlotte picks at No. 4, Cody Zeller will probably be one of the best fits for the future of the Charlotte Bobcats.