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Rockets Draft Prospects: Tyler Zeller

The North Carolina senior should be their top target

Presswire

It's no secret, the Rockets need a big man in the middle. Sure they signed Samuel Dalembert and traded for Marcus Camby (free-agent), but they're both on the wrong side of 30; the Rockets need younger legs. Even though Camby and Dalembert played well at times on defense, they haven't had a post man who could score and defend at his position since Yao Ming. They've tried defensive minded players like Chuck Hayes, they've tried better offensive players like Patrick Patterson, but have struggled to find a young center who could do both. With that in mind, I'd like to see the Rockets target center Tyler Zeller from North Carolina with their first round pick.

Zeller is a legit 7-footer with a good wing-span, and is a pretty good athlete. On the offensive end he runs the floor well, has range out to 18 feet, and has a go-to move in the post with a short right-handed baby hook. On the defensive end, he's a good shot blocker, but will need to bulk up and put on weight to keep from being pushed around at the NBA level. As a senior at North Carolina, Zeller averaged 16.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, while shooting 55% from the field, and 80% from the free throw line. Some critics would say that Zeller has hit his ceiling, but I disagree. Zeller's points, rebounds, blocks, assists, and steals per game went up all 4 years at North Carolina, along with his field goal percentage improving every season.

I see Zeller as a center in the NBA, but with his athleticism, he'll give any team who drafts him the option of playing him at power forward as well. Zeller ranks 11th on John Hollinger's Efficiency Ratings of draft prospects, and is projected as a lottery pick both on ESPN and NBAdraft.net. Draft Express has Zeller going 10th, NBAdraft.net has him going 12th, HoopsHype has him going 12th, and HoopsWorld has him going 14th to the Rockets. I think the Rockets will have to move up a few spots to get Zeller, but they have the ammo to trade and I believe it'd be worth it.

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