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Phoenix Suns Draft Preview: Tyler Zeller

North Carolina Tar Heels forward Tyler Zeller (44) shoots the ball over Ohio Bobcats forward Jon Smith (21)
North Carolina Tar Heels forward Tyler Zeller (44) shoots the ball over Ohio Bobcats forward Jon Smith (21)

Today we take a look at one of the big-men who came to Phoenix recently in a curious workout that featured all big-men. Curious - because of reasons stated in recent posts, but to recap a bit - take a sniff:

  • The 2011 draft brought Markieff Morris who seems to be a positive fit
  • We've got Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye under contract
  • All signs point to the Suns retaining RFA Robin Lopez

The front office has kept pretty tight-lipped as far as giving out hints as to what they plan on doing come draft night. Will they trade up? Will they pick up extra picks? Both are possibilities and I get the feeling that the big-man workout held on the 16th was in preparation for something like that.

Forget the speculation though - it is a fact that North Carolina's Tyler Zeller was in Phoenix and could be a possible selection for the Suns. Let's take a look at Zeller.

Tyler Zeller

Birthday: 01/17/90
Position: PF/C
Class: Senior
Height: 7-0
Weight: 247
Hometown: Washington, IN

Here are Zeller's numbers at UNC for all 4 years.
2008-09 15 1.1 2.4 .472 1.1 .765 2.0 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.5 3.1
2009-10 27 17.3 3.7 7.1 .521 2.7 .722 4.6 0.3 0.5 0.9 1.3 1.8 9.3
2010-11 37 28.1 5.7 10.4 .549 5.7 .759 7.2 0.6 0.7 1.2 1.4 2.7 15.8
2011-12 38 28.2 5.8 10.5 .553 5.9 .808 9.6 0.9 0.9 1.5 1.9 2.7 16.3
Career 117 25.3 4.7 8.6 .543 4.5 .775 6.7 0.6 0.7 1.1 1.4 2.1 12.8


(According to the experts)

  • True 7 footer who plays tall, stays high and uses his height when rebounding etc.
  • Runs the floor very well and finishes in transition extremely well for his size
  • Pretty good FT-shooter, .78 for a 7 footer is very nice
  • Can spread the floor (not with the 3, but will consistent <18 foot jumpers)
  • Has good shooting form
  • Awesome jump hook
  • Very mobile for a big dude
  • Has soft touch around the rim - but can throw it down as well
  • Touted as being well-suited for an up-tempo style of play
  • Good offensive glass presence
  • Extremely high character


  • Strength - could use some extra lbs. Get's punked by bigger dudes in the post
  • Goofy and Stiff (not many 7 footers who aren't)
  • Is a senior (not sure why it's a weakness.. but that's what they say)
  • His reach is not very impressive for a 7 footer
  • Not a great shot-blocker
  • Knocked for not having more athleticism
  • Needs work on his post offense
I also found this pretty amazing video by Mike Schmitz from VotS/Truehoop/DX.


Like the video points out - Zeller is a low-risk proven commodity. Everybody has Zeller going in the top-20 and even as high as 10 or 12. In general - I think Zeller is a solid lottery pick for any team, he's young despite being a senior and still has loads of potential improvement to experience. The only major draw-back I see is his size and strength - dude needs to beef up because he will most definitely have intense issues trying to guard actual NBA PF's and C's. Maybe Boris Diaw could be freelanced to spearhead Project Zeller-Gain-Weight? I tease.

As far as Tyler Zeller being a good pick for the Suns? If the Suns were to choose a big instead of a guard or a SF - In all honesty I would be a little disappointed in a 13-pick on Zeller - though I would be totally open to see his development. I think the Suns need to bring in a higher level of athleticism and raw talent than Zeller has to offer. He's an extremely hard worker and a high-character guy, just like Phoenix likes, but I'd like to see the Suns gamble their lottery on something that could turn to elite talent. Zeller's 'good' NBA projection is a Greg Monroe-type of big.... while that's not terrible it's not the gamble I'd like to see the Suns take this year.

That's my opinion - what about you?

If the Suns go with a big, would you rather see a low-risk proven commodity or a gamble talent pick?

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