Tyler Zeller is quietly having a pretty big rookie season for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 7-0 center out of the University of North Carolina is often overshadowed by all of the other young players on the Cavaliers, but he looks like one of the top rookies in the league.
Currently, Zeller has the third-highest rebounding average among all NBA rookies, with 5.9 per game. The leading rookie rebounder is Anthony Davis with 8.0 boards per game, while Andre Drummond is in second place with 7.5 per game.
Zeller is also scoring a solid 7.9 points per game, and is playing well on both ends of the floor.
When the season started, it looked like Zeller would likely be a bench player all year. The injuries to forward/center Anderson Varejao pushed Zeller into the starting lineup much more quickly than the coaches probably wanted, but he has responded well to the challenge.
At times, Zeller has certainly looked like a rookie, but he has also had moments where he has made some big shots and pulled down some tough rebounds. Zeller has also cut down on his turnovers as the season has continued, and he has looked more and more like a solid post player.
In the Cavaliers 93-92 loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, for example, Zeller came up big when the team needed him. Against the Celtics frontline, Zeller nearly had a double-double, as he scored 11 points and pulled down 9 rebounds in 24 minutes. He shot an excellent 5 for 6 from the floor, and he was a force in the paint.
In another recent big game for the Cavaliers, Zeller also had a huge night. In the 98-95 loss to the Miami Heat, Zeller had a great game against the defending NBA champions as he scored 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. He shot an excellent 4 for 6 against the Heat, while playing 23 minutes.
Zeller has a nice jump shot, and he fits in well with the Cavaliers offense. He moves the ball well and is averaging 1.3 assists per game. As he continues to get stronger and gain more experience, Zeller is just going to get better and better.
Right now, he doesn’t look like a star who is going to receive a lot of attention. What he looks like, though, is a solid big man who is going to be a good defensive player, an excellent rebounder and a threat to score in the post.
Zeller looks like a great draft pick, and he should have a bright future with the Cavaliers.