They used to call it one of the best draft classes of the last 25 years. Now, it’s looking more and more like Anthony Davis… and then everybody else. Still, this Thursday, the 2012 NBA Draft will bring hope, and hopefully new talent to some teams that desperately need it.
As we do every year, Dime will be holding you down with mock drafts, player interviews and diaries (you should check out Dion Waiters‘ draft diary), and we will also be bringing you draft profiles for every potential prospect deemed worthy. With this year’s crop of talent, that list is long. Our last profile was on the future of Kansas’ Thomas Robinson. Today, we’re looking at UNC’s Tyler Zeller.
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Best Case: Greg Monroe
Worst Case: Greg Stiemsma
Final Comparison: Zaza Pachulia
Zeller’s athleticism is extremely limited. His wingspan of seven feet is rather pedestrian as it matches his height, and he doesn’t jump out of his shoes either. This, arguably, is the weakest part of Zeller’s overall basketball profile and is much of the reason why he’s slid down draft boards. He will have trouble defending bigs who play above the rim, and offensively he has consistently shown that athletic bigs can and will alter his shot around the rim, as he is not strong or quick enough to power through or slide around. However, Zeller runs the floor more effectively and more often than any other big in this draft. This should provide a huge advantage for Zeller as he picks up easy points against lazier NBA players.
[RELATED: Dime Mock Draft 4.0]
Over his four years at UNC, Zeller has developed into an efficient low post scorer. He can score from 5-7 feet with a jump hook with either hand and in general has excellent touch around the rim. Zeller is also an improving shooter – although the system at UNC prohibited him from stepping away from the basket, he has shown the ability in workouts to hit shots from 15-20 feet with consistency. Zeller also shot 80.8 percent from the free throw line this past season and has shown the craftiness to get defenders in the air and draw fouls.
As a four-year college player, the nuances of Zeller’s game are especially refined – he won’t need time to sit on the end of the bench to develop his skills. Furthermore, his willingness to hustle and run the floor, arguably better than any other player in this draft, will always earn him playing time. So expect Zeller to contribute early and often in his NBA career.