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How good can Cody Zeller become?


I know it's just preseason, but Cody is leading the league in TS% at 93.1 (and has an effective FG% above 100!). He's perfect from beyond the three-point line, and is leading the team's non-exclusive point guards in assist %. He's clearly got some nice chemistry going with Jeremy Lin and is fitting well into the reworked pace-and-space, move-the-ball offense. And he's vocally directing teammates on defense, where he shined in real defensive plus-minus last year.

Yeah, I know Brother Dave says he still sucks, but personally I'm wondering: Just how good can Cody be, this season and in years to come?

http://stats.nba.com...amID=1610612766


  • 41 Comments

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    InProblematique
    Oct 15 2015 01:36 PM

    Meh, it's still cautious optimism for me this year. Seeing him taking and shooting threes is a big deal and definitely a boost in my confidence for him, but I've been super excited about Cody only to be let down. He dominated his first two years in summer league, especially that rookie year. Like, he looked like an MVP. He has to get more confident on offense. Ever since entering the league, he just passes out of way too many open shots and doesn't take open lanes as much as he should. He finishes well, he's super athletic, and now he can shoot, so there's no reason for him to be passing out of high percentage shots like that.

     

    On defense he's already surpassed anyone's expectations for him coming into the league. I remember he got pretty well slammed in the draft because of length, and no one thought he would be a good defender. Now he's one of our best. He's also a very good rebounder when he wants to be. Adequate passer as well.

     

    If he gains that confidence, and if he plays with players who accent his strengths (he needs a lot of time with Lin, I think), then I think he can be pretty good this season. maybe 13/8 at best.

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    GeraldWallaceMVP
    Oct 15 2015 03:07 PM

    Hmmm maybe like Barg level

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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 15 2015 03:34 PM

    Best case scenario might be 14 and 9 for a few years, with solid defense.

     

    While he is "run and jump" athletic, I don't think he is very quick with the ball in his hands. You can't hand him the ball and ask him to beat his man with explosiveness or crafty moves. He relies on moving without the ball or just hanging around the rim and waiting for another player to create and dish. 

     

    If he has truly added the 3 to his arsenal, then that's awesome. That makes him a legit NBA starter for 5-7 years. There's nothing wrong with being an exceptional 3-and-D hustle guy. Don't know if that's what you look for in a number 4 pick, but time might prove his draft class to be fairly weak. 

     

    It will be interesting to see if he ever becomes a post up guy as he gets older and fills out. He seemed comfortable down there in college. 

    The good thing that I am seeing is he's seemingly engaged the minute he hits the floor. He has been an MKG with the absence of the grit master himself and that's not something I fear gets shut off when the regular season begins. I think he must keep shooting to be a significant value but provided he doesn't forget to turn that bit on, he's on track for some great stuff.

    The good thing that I am seeing is he's seemingly engaged the minute he hits the floor. He has been an MKG with the absence of the grit master himself and that's not something I fear gets shut off when the regular season begins. I think he must keep shooting to be a significant value but provided he doesn't forget to turn that bit on, he's on track for some great stuff.


    Pretty much this. Expectations won't be met if the expectations are wrong and if people think he'll be an offensive stretch 4 then they'll be disappointed.

    His destiny is as a center and from there he'll maximise his potential. An athletic floor running, defensive pick n roll busting 5 who can hit threes and cause serious problems in the right situation. Paired with a guy like Lin and floor spacers is his best scenario.

    MJ

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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 16 2015 01:20 AM

    I must respectfully disagree with Buckets(Wait. Is he the guy who could potentially hand me my arse with analytics? Or is that someone else?). 

     

    I struggle to see Zeller as a full time 5-man. His length is typical for an NBA guy only 6'8"-6'9", plus the fact that he has a stick figure bone structure under those muscles. 

     

    While he appears to have ability guarding perimeter bigs, guarding the pick-and-roll, and help defending, I just don't see him protecting the rim or stopping too many guys in the low post. If there are numbers to prove me wrong, I'm all ears. 

     

    There is a reason that Zeller is a mobile 7-footer with a huge vertical who only averages 1.3 blocks per 40 minutes. He is effectively 6'9". 

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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 16 2015 01:25 AM

    And like I mentioned earlier, I just hope someday Zeller can have the physicality to overpower some 4s in the low post. That would be where he could collect himself and execute some moves. 

    And like I mentioned earlier, I just hope someday Zeller can have the physicality to overpower some 4s in the low post. That would be where he could collect himself and execute some moves. 

     

    agreed but if the league is trending to small ball lineups he could be the perfect center (minus rim protection) 

    I must respectfully disagree with Buckets(Wait. Is he the guy who could potentially hand me my arse with analytics? Or is that someone else?). 
     
    I struggle to see Zeller as a full time 5-man. His length is typical for an NBA guy only 6'8"-6'9", plus the fact that he has a stick figure bone structure under those muscles. 
     
    While he appears to have ability guarding perimeter bigs, guarding the pick-and-roll, and help defending, I just don't see him protecting the rim or stopping too many guys in the low post. If there are numbers to prove me wrong, I'm all ears. 
     
    There is a reason that Zeller is a mobile 7-footer with a huge vertical who only averages 1.3 blocks per 40 minutes. He is effectively 6'9".


    You raise valid points but those are team concerns. If we're talking about what's best for Cody then I'd put him in a position to exploit his strengths and that's using his athleticism to take advantage of similarly sized bigs in space as a cutter, running the floor, and hitting the occasional three. As a PF his inherent advantages will always be muted.

    I think Adam has it right comparing Cody to MKG and it's up to the FO and Coach to put him in a position to succeed. I doubt he'll ever be good enough on offense to punish smaller players so keeping him at the 4 gives the opposing coach the luxury of going small with almost no penalty.
    On the second unit Cody is basically the center on offense, or at least the 4.5, with Hawes involved in PnP situations 28 feet from the basket. I love Cody in that position and on defense paired with a longer 4 he's problematic. On the first unit his strengths will be sacrificed.

    In 2015-16 and beyond, I'll take Cody over Al at the 5 and never look back. Al is more limited but because he scores he doesn't get the same scrutiny, though he should. Cody is the better player but it's subtle and less tangible.
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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 16 2015 09:26 AM

    Basically Cody is currently an incomplete player at any postion. 

     

    Cody at 5: Will always be completely abused by big, long guys like NIcola Vucevic, DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, etc. Even Andrew Nicholson was abusing Cody in the post against the Magic the other night. 

     

    Cody at 4: Doesn't show the "elongated 3-man" offensive skills that we are expecting out of stretch 4s nowadays. 

     

    So one of two things must happen:

     

    1. Cody must miraculously grow longer arms and larger bones so he can have the body to match his current skill set. 

    2. Cody must continue to work on his perimeter game, so that he will rarely be a negative on offense. He already appears to be an overall positive on defense at the 4. 

     

    I'd like to see them try posting Cody on a smaller 4-guy with Hawes as the 5 positioned out at the 3-point line this year. We can still have our 4-man out spacing. Just try it this year, Coach!

     

    We don't know what the NBA will look like in 5 years. Maybe huge, long bigs will become dinosaurs and Cody will be the prototypical 5. Maybe he will be the prototypical 4 as small ball is reigned in somewhat. We just don't know.

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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 16 2015 09:30 AM

    Hopefully Cody develops the physicality and savvy to post some of the NBA guys in the 6'8" to 6'10" range.

    Cody and Frank could be the future bigs for this team.  It seems like Frank is even thinner than Cody so it's hard to envision him being a five.  He's longer tho so there's hope that he could protect the rim better and can pair up with Cody.  These two should fit pretty well.  Frank can stretch the floor, PnP while Cody can fill the lane and PnR.  Both are pretty good defenders.  Cody obviously benefitted and will benefit from playing with Lin.  If he just sets picks and run around constantly, Lin will find him in good positions to score.  He probably won't have a very good post game or face up game, so being able to fast break and shoot is huge.  There is a chance he could gradually dominate the other teams' bench, gain more confidence and be able to fulfil his promise as a no.4 pick. 

    Basically Cody is currently an incomplete player at any postion. 
     
    Cody at 5: Will always be completely abused by big, long guys like NIcola Vucevic, DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, etc. Even Andrew Nicholson was abusing Cody in the post against the Magic the other night. 
     
    Cody at 4: Doesn't show the "elongated 3-man" offensive skills that we are expecting out of stretch 4s nowadays. 
     
    So one of two things must happen:
     
    1. Cody must miraculously grow longer arms and larger bones so he can have the body to match his current skill set. 
    2. Cody must continue to work on his perimeter game, so that he will rarely be a negative on offense. He already appears to be an overall positive on defense at the 4. 
     
    I'd like to see them try posting Cody on a smaller 4-guy with Hawes as the 5 positioned out at the 3-point line this year. We can still have our 4-man out spacing. Just try it this year, Coach!
     
    We don't know what the NBA will look like in 5 years. Maybe huge, long bigs will become dinosaurs and Cody will be the prototypical 5. Maybe he will be the prototypical 4 as small ball is reigned in somewhat. We just don't know.


    Pachulia is a pretty good defensive center and he's not nearly as athletic as Cody. Surrounded by length Cody would be even better (which they had before MKGs injury). There's no direct comps for him but a hybrid Pachulia, Gortat and a little Tristan Thompson with a stretchy jumper.

    Not sure why a team would want to focus on Cody being marginal in the post in a few years when he could be an above average small ball floor running stretch 5 right now.

    Here's NBA length by position for 2015. Should Batum return next year and Frank work his way into the starting PF role, Charlotte's starting length 2-5 with Cody at C would be a lot closer to last year's Milwaukee than people think, a top 3 defensive team. They'd absolutely be a good defensive rebounding team with enough speed and length to cover for Cody's shortcomings.

     

    http://nyloncalculus...ition-for-2015/

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    InProblematique
    Oct 16 2015 10:20 PM

    agreed but if the league is trending to small ball lineups he could be the perfect center (minus rim protection) 

    Let's be honest here, though; rim protection is absolutely pointless if the player's team defense is good.

     

    I don't care if Zeller never blocks a single shot this entire season. If he defends at the level he proved he was capable of last season, that's better than having a rim protecter at center. Being able to defend and interrupt shots without fouling prevents more shots than shot blocking. The only difference is, one is logged in the box score, the other isn't.

     

    Obviously, ideally you'd want someone who can do both. Anthony Davis is a good example of an excellent team defender who can block a shot, but not everyone can be AD. I'm taking the team defender over the rim protecter (aka shot blocker) every time.

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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 16 2015 10:44 PM

    Cody at the 5 would be a true test of his poor length and frame, though.

     

    Sure, if you surround him with players who cover up his special needs, it could work. But I don't know if making a team fit Cody Zeller is a priority.

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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 16 2015 11:00 PM

    I could live with his poor length if he had a great frame. I could live with his narrow frame if he had great length. But since he has neither, I'd expect him to be completely manhandled by Drummond, D.Jordan, Vucevic, the Lopez twins, Cousins, Hibbert, old Timmie Duncan(?), and maybe even.......... Biyombo?

     

    Anybody here think Kaminsky has quickly added some unexpected muscle? He definitely looks stronger than he did a year ago. When it's all said and done, he might be the better candidate to defend 5-men, with that 9'1.5" reach.....

    I could live with his poor length if he had a great frame. I could live with his narrow frame if he had great length. But since he has neither, I'd expect him to be completely manhandled by Drummond, D.Jordan, Vucevic, the Lopez twins, Cousins, Hibbert, and maybe even Biyombo?
     
    Anybody here think Kaminsky has quickly added some unexpected muscle? He definitely looks stronger than he did a year ago. When it's all said and done, he might be the better candidate to defend 5-men, with that 9'1.5" reach.....


    Handled in what way? This isn't tennis and half the guys you named don't get set offensive plays called for them. I find it hard to believe there would be concerns with Cody defending Biz in the post.

    The last 2 teams Charlotte played had Bosh, Amare, Deandre, and Josh effin Smith playing center.
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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 16 2015 11:12 PM

    Handled in what way? This isn't tennis and half the guys you named don't get set offensive plays called for them. I find it hard to believe there would be concerns with Cody defending Biz in the post.

    The last 2 teams Charlotte played had Bosh, Amare, Deandre, and Josh effin Smith playing center.

    Simply being out-muscled and out-reached for rebounds, for one thing. That would be my biggest concern.

     

    Josh Smith has a pretty wide body nowadays, with more length than Cody. Could see him working out as a backup 5. 

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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 16 2015 11:17 PM


    The last 2 teams Charlotte played had Bosh, Amare, Deandre, and Josh effin Smith playing center.

     

    And every one of them has more length than Cody

    Handled in what way? This isn't tennis and half the guys you named don't get set offensive plays called for them. I find it hard to believe there would be concerns with Cody defending Biz in the post.

    The last 2 teams Charlotte played had Bosh, Amare, Deandre, and Josh effin Smith playing center.

     

    Bosh is THE guy that came to mind as this thread meandered on.  Cody flat out shut him down last year when matched up on him.  Being able to move his feet to stay with a Bosh from 25' to driving to the hole is where his value is - and if he can start making those guys that he has to guard out to the three point line do likewise, it's a driving lane that opens up for someone else.  

    T-Rex Kevin Willis could be a good indication, Cody needs to get some muscles.

     

    OTOH, a big rotation of Whiteside, Frank, Cody and Hawes would be amazing. 

    I think Cody is and will stay a cornerstone of the Hornets franchise.

    As said earlier, the Frank & Cody frontcourt might just work out when both compensate eachothers weaknesses (minus the rim protection).