The Curious Case of Cody Zeller

20 May

1323352635Overused headline clichés aside, Cody Zeller has had an interesting impression on NBA scouts since his debut for Indiana in 2011. Physically speaking, Zeller has the makings of a solid center in the NBA. The NBA Draft Combine’s measurements placed him in the 7-footer category, yet his standing reach was second worst among big men only to Kelly Olynyk. (Olyxidus Rex is my current nickname for the short armed center out of Gonzaga.) The wingspan numbers are equally underwhelming, making it clear that Zeller’s stock will fall as a prospect due to the recent emphasis on length with young big men.

Yet on the second day of the combine, Zeller turned in one of the most impressive physical performances in recent memory. His naysayers scratched their collective heads when the center out of Indiana scored the best time in every physical drill among centers and power forwards; including a standing vertical of 35.5”, which rivals most guards and completely obliterated his long-limbed competition.

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Few people will spend time gawking over Zeller’s lane agility time, body fat percentage or hand width once he begins his time in NBA. Yet, there are questions about him that cannot be answered by a table of measurements. Zeller confused writers and scouts alike during his two years of play at Indiana, and the confusion may be enough to harm his draft stock.

Zeller had a tendency to fade into the background at times while the school’s basketball program rose back to dominance and regardless of the cast of talent that surrounded him in his sophomore season, Zeller was the supposed centerpiece. The rise of Victor Oladipo surely had a hand in his lack of impact during the 2012 season, but for a player that would label himself as a competitor, his impact was largely inconsistent.

Contradictions are all over the place for the third Zeller brother in regards to his upside in the NBA, and it’s surely making life difficult on general managers. Franchises have been burned in the past with players exhibiting similar mental tendencies when the NBA game gets too rough for them. But, there is always the sense of regret when it comes to passing on athletic players and seeing them reach their explosive potential.

Front offices have their hands full with their decisions in this draft, and the questions about Zeller only deepen that discussion. Will his short arms hamper him in an increasingly-athletic league? Can he flourish offensively with his athletic advantage and technique? Will we ever try to answer our own rhetorical questions?

Time will reveal all.

Lets Talk NBA: Playing Catch Up

15 May

 

Another NBA talk video where I just catch up on where we are in the NBA playoffs, where my picks went wrong, and what I think of the current series.

Coaching Decision Looms over Lob City

12 May

With the news coming today that the Atlanta Hawks are supposedly targeting the well-respected Stan Van Gundy, the window is closing on the Clippers front office. Teams are moving quickly to maneuver themselves toward next season and the time for mourning last week’s elimination is gone. With that the time for tough decisions is upon Gary Sacks and his staff, the most important of which being the man on the sidelines next season.

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Vinny Del Negro has led the Clippers to an improved record every season he has been in LA. He has developed youngsters, motivated role players, and kept his two stars happy. It should not be understated the success that Del Negro has had; he deserves his share of credit for the success in Lob City.

Unfortunately, this is not the time to consider the team’s recent success. Losing in six games to the Memphis Grizzlies after leading 2-0 is a collapse that a Pacific Division crown cannot obscure. This team had expectations that involved improvement, and regression from last season’s second round appearance could be the decisive black mark on Del Negro’s resume. This was Chris Paul’s last year of his contract and the assortment of veterans manning the bench was designed to win now. Del Negro’s shortcomings were exposed in this series, and Gary Sacks has to consider if those shortcomings are worth dealing with.

Del Negro excelled in player development and the understated importance of not over-coaching. However, when other coaches played chess and checkers in the average NBA game, Vinny had a tendency to play Hungry Hungry Hippos. The combination of talent and expectations for this team, points to the need for a more poised and tactical mind to lead the franchise forward.

The candidates appear to be out there for this team. The promise of Blake Griffin, matched with the hopeful return of Chris Paul and the bright lights of LA make this the most exciting landing spot for the best head coaches available. The defensive genius and disciplinarian attitude of Stan Van Gundy is out there listening to potential suitors. Jerry Sloan could be considering the similarities between the star tandem in LA to the golden duo from his past in Stockton and Malone. Diamonds lie in the rough as well with bright coaches looking for a shot at a roster with this much talent. The options are out there for the front office to consider should they decide to look for an upgrade.

The importance is swiftness when it comes to this decision. With other teams already making moves, Lob City cannot afford to be left in the dust. There are plenty of big roster decisions coming in the months ahead, and many of those are dependent on the style and philosophy of the head coach. Will Deandre Jordan be given what he needs to succeed, or will he be traded? Can the club afford to keep the aging, often injured veterans on the roster? What does Blake need to do before he can take the next step toward superstardom?

The upcoming verdict on next season’s head coach could end up being the most important decision in franchise history. There are multiple coaches available that could take the Clippers in a variety of different directions next season and in that web of possibilities is the next stepping stone that this team is looking for.

Lets Talk NBA: Playoff Picks

20 Apr

Its getting down to the wire in my classes, which explains my lack of activity. However, I did find 20 minutes to ramble about the upcoming NBA playoff picture.

First Post: (!!!) NBA Q&A With YouTube Subscribers

23 Mar