Is Tyler Zeller a Building Block or Trade Chip?

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There is no doubt that Tyler Zeller is a great young player and he has great potential with the Celtics. He’s 7’0 tall, extremely athletic, and is amazing at filling the lanes on the fast break. In this sense, his play style is going to fit in very nicely with Rondo, Smart, and Bradley, who can push the ball up the court and know that they are going to have their big man running to the rim with them.

Zeller averaged 7.9 PPG and 5.7 RPG his rookie season in 26 minutes. Last year he didn’t receive as much playing time on the Cavs because of a new head coach (Mike Brown) and also because there was more competition for minutes with Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson. Therefore his stat line wasn’t as impressive but if you look at his stats per 36 minutes played, he improved everywhere except in assists and free throw percentage (very slightly lower in both).

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Shot chart for 2012-13 season (photo via

One thing that I really like about Tyler Zeller is that he spent four years in college. I am a big advocate of players staying in college longer so that they have more time to develop. The chances of a player being a bust go down greatly and NBA can have a better overall picture of what they are going to be getting in a player. Plus, when you look at all the all-time great players in the history of the NBA, generally most of them spent at least 3-4 years in college (yes, Kobe and LeBron are exceptions to this). Four years under Roy Williams at North Carolina was a good thing for Zeller and that’s why he had such good rookie year. It made the transition to the NBA much easier for him.

Personally, I like the addition of Zeller. I can’t really figure out what we are totally going to get out of him besides some interesting basketball but one thing is clear, he is still not the rim protector that the Celtics really need. He doesn’t have quite the leaping ability or just the size of a brick wall of the great shot blockers and defenders in today’s game like Dwight Howard, Serge Ilbaka, Roy Hibbert, or DeAndre Jordan. But, I do believe that with Brad Stevens at head coach, he can turn Zeller into the role player the Celtics need and hopefully into one of the better big men in the league.

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