Seldom in life are we asked to face the type of adversity that requires a near perfect display of human achievement. On Tuesday night, Cody Zeller was asked to face such adversity, representing America in the geo-political war machine that was the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.
In a game that pitted the best rookies and sophomores from the United States and the World against each other, the World defeated the United States 121-112, but Zeller was the unsung hero, finishing with 12 points on 6-7 shooting, along with four rebounds, and three steals in 19 minutes.
Zeller played about as most would have expected -- he dunked in transition, hit a couple of jumpers, and set a lot of screens. He attempted one 3-pointer, because why not, but sadly it did not fall.
Picked by coach Alvin Gentry to start the game, Zeller looked as
emotionless calm as ever:
His cool demeanor easily translated into the game, and he used his supreme athleticism to throw down a few highlight-reel dunks:
Zeller would sit to start the second half, as did his former Indiana teammate Victor Oladipo. The two must have made a bet, because Zeller went into full point guard mode in the second half, making ridiculous passes, and leading fast breaks that almost worked:
Overall, the night couldn't have gone much better for Zeller. He was arguably one of the lesser known players participating in the game from a national standpoint, so this provided an opportunity to show off just how athletic he is, along with that sweet 35 percent mid-range jumper of his.
He wasn't a standout, and often took a step back as some of his teammates performed some of the flashier moves of the night. Despite that, he still got his, and likely surprised a few watching in Brooklyn and at home with his athleticism. His attempts at playing point guard were fun to watch as well, mainly because his teammates on the receiving end never cleanly caught the ball.
Maybe it's become so instinctive after one and a half seasons, but Zeller also set an unusual amount of on-ball and off-ball screens for a Rising Stars Challenge. While we all love his selflessness, I would have celebrated Zeller dribbling aimlessly around the court while not looking to pass, only to pull up and take a contested 3-pointer with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. Instead, Charlotte fans were treated to the Zeller they all knew and loved. Thankfully he didn't get hurt, and he can now rest up for Charlotte's final stretch of the season.