Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag.
- Measurables: 7-foot, 230 pounds, sophomore center from the Indiana University.
- Key Stats: 16.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.3 blocks per game; shot 56 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free throw line.
- Projected: Top-10 pick.
- Hickory High similarity score
I guess you could call Cody Zeller the latest from the state of Indiana’s royal family of basketball to make the jump to the NBA. That’s a title they might have to awkwardly battle the Plumlee family for, but Zeller is one of three brothers to have played in the NBA in the last two seasons. Everyone knows his older brother Tyler, current Cavalier and formally of the University of North Carolina, but he also has an older, older brother named Luke.
Luke toiled at the University of Notre Dame from 2005-09 before (somehow) catching on for a short time with the Phoenix Suns this season. All three were dominant high school players, but while the older brothers have moved on to the professional ranks rather quietly, Cody hasn’t had that same kind of stealthy transition — shown below as his NBA decision makes a small child cry.
Fits with the Pistons because …
Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are great, but they can’t play the entire game. Unless you feel comfortable going into next season with Jonas Jerebko and whatever low-end center option there is on the free agent market, Zeller makes some sense. He’s got legit size and he’s got some legit talent, and that can’t be ignored if you’re a team like the Pistons — good players will always help.
Jason Maxiell made the open 15-footer, and if he leaves in free agency, a replacement who can do that would help. Zeller can come off the bench, stretch the floor a little bit and work from the high post while Drummond or Monroe work down on the block. Floor spacing does come mainly from having shooters around the 3-point line, but having a big man who can be an actual threat from 15-17 feet is also important.
Zeller can play in a slow-it-down system, or he can get out on the break. There really aren’t any college basketball players with true post games, but Zeller is pretty good at navigating down low and getting position in his spots. His scoring efficiency dropped slightly in his sophomore season, but he still consistently put up 16-plus points a night.
Perhaps his absolute best-case scenario is LaMarcus Aldridge — another slightly built, jump-shooting big man who doesn’t rebound incredibly well — but more realistically he may be what his brother is in Cleveland, a more athletic, but less-skilled version of Greg Monroe.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
His strengths aren’t really what the team needs. He’s not going to help as a playmaker, though he can play and distribute the ball from that high-post elbow area. Rebounding is something of a concern, as is his toughness and willingness to bang around with the big boys.
There’s a lot of things Drummond needs to work on to be a better player, but getting messy down low isn’t one of them. Zeller doesn’t have that same knack — or strength — to go down into the paint and really make his intentions known. The guys that Zeller was battling in the Big Ten were good, but going from Adreian Payne and Trevor Mbakwe to NBA frontcourt players is going to be his biggest challenge off the bat.
He measured as the most athletic big man at the NBA Draft Combine last month, which is actually surprising considering that he just doesn’t come off that way during the game. There are plenty of NBA player who are athletic, but there are some that rely too much on it and others who, quite frankly, don’t use it enough. I think he might be the latter. Not to say he can’t improve on it, but he doesn’t show that explosiveness quite enough.
From the Experts
Zeller helped himself tremendously with his athletic testing numbers at the combine. He tested as the most athletic big man in the draft and was in the top five of all participants at the combine. Now he just needs to complete the deal by proving to scouts that he has the perimeter skills to make the transition to the 4 position. If he shoots the ball well, he’ll move up another few spots on our board.
Zeller’s stock took a bit of a hit this season, to the point that he is no longer a lock to get drafted in the top five as he was projected to start the year. He’ll need to have a good showing during the pre-draft process, particularly in matchups with other players at his position, but it’s difficult to see him falling too far in the draft considering he’s an athletic 7-footer with tremendous scoring instincts. Barring injury, it’s safe to say Zeller will be in the NBA for a long time.
Chris Broussard of ESPN reported Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are talking about signing with the same team this summer, and Kevin Pelton ranked the teams most likely to land both. The Pistons ranked third (!):
The Pistons are the distant wild card in these proceedings. If Detroit waives Rodney Stuckey, whose contract is guaranteed for $4 million next season, and uses the amnesty provision on Charlie Villanueva, the Pistons would not have anyone making more than $5 million on the roster next season. They’d need to cut about $6 million in salary, which they could accomplish by packaging Brandon Knight with forward Jonas Jerebko (two years left on his deal at $4.5 million apiece) to a team under the cap or with a trade exception. Alternatively, Detroit could trade the No. 8 pick and convince Paul and Howard to take a couple hundred thousand less than the max apiece.
By doing so, Paul and Howard would join a Pistons team that still has quality young talent.Greg Monroe could work next to Howard If he develops a midrange game, and Detroit would have promising second-year center Andre Drummond as either part of the world’s most talented center rotation or trade bait to improve the wings. Nonetheless, it’s hard to see Detroit, hardly a destination for NBA players, forming the next superteam. Their sights are set much lower in free agency.
It will never happen, but wow, how awesome would that me? I don’t want to bother explaining all the reasons this would be nearly impossible. I just want to enjoy the thought.
I’m off to imagine this team winning the championship next year. Have a great weekend, everyone.
Consensus opinion seems to be that if Joe Dumars didn’t get his latest coaching hire right, it will be his last as Pistons President of Basketball Operations. I don’t think anyone but the most rose-colored-glasses-wearing homers are excited about the move. I’m included among the pessimistic. But I’m also intrigued by the hire. If we’ve seen any consistent pattern from the incredibly erratic Dumars — he’s one more bad season from having the same number of poor seasons as good seasons during his tenure as team president — it’s that he loves to gamble on retreads, unwanteds, you name its. Maurice Cheeks certainly fits that description, and in today’s Detroit Free Press column, I wrote about my admiration for the fact that for better or worse, Dumars is rolling with a guy who fits his trend:
While his moves prior to 2004 were good, sound gambles, his moves since have just simply been a collection of mystifying misidentifications of talent, both among players and coaches. Cheeks could prove everyone wrong, but his selection as the new coach mirrors Dumars’ recent moves far more than his moves earlier in his career.
It seems unthinkable considering the reputation he had league-wide in the mid 2000s, but Dumars has a long enough track record now that he’s approaching a point in his career where he’s had nearly as many bad teams (six) as good ones (seven). There were certainly circumstances in that stretch that were Dumars’ fault and others that weren’t, but it’s pretty clear that Dumars’ future as team president is tied to one more curious acquisition significantly outperforming expectations. Whether Cheeks leads to the demise of Dumars in Detroit or his resurgence, he’s a fitting choice for Dumars to either sink or swim with.
Both Frank and Kuester were fired after two seasons, and this time, as he introduced Maurice Cheeks, Dumars offered no similar promise of stability. As far as I heard, he wasn’t even asked about it.
Perhaps, reporters know it’s futile to ask when the results are so clearly contrary to what Dumars says in this part of the process. Or perhaps Dumars knows he no longer has the security himself to promise it to a coach.
Instead of discussing Cheeks’ chances of surviving his four-year contract, the Pistons delivered a clinic in how not to handle an introductory press conference.
The most impactful person in the organization, Tom Gores, didn’t make an appearance, and he apparently spent just “a couple hours” with Cheeks.
Dumars declined to address roster upgrades – far, far more essential to the Pistons’ future than a coaching change. “A different time, a different press conference,” he said.
Want to excite fans and/or make them feel like they’re worthy of understanding their team’s direction? This was a lesson in how not to do that.
Cheeks certainly has positives, and even if I believe his negatives outweigh them, I was more than willing to look for reasons to hope. Highlight his best attributes and present them with excitement, and I could have gotten temporarily excited, even if would have lasted just an afternoon. Instead, Cheeks and Dumars muttered away with a disinterested tone.
It’s like the Pistons have given up any hopes of generating buzz. Dumars even said nobody ever buys at the time of the press conferences, even when the Pistons were perennial conference finalists – but I don’t think that true at all. Back then, Dumars had the benefit of the doubt, and every transaction could reasonably be analyzed through the lens of, “What did the great Joe Dumars see here to believe it would work?” Once that was identified, fans and media got on board. Heck, Rick Carlisle attended his own firing press conference and praised Dumars for the move.
Winning the press conference is not that important – see Frank – but it’s better to excite in it than to not. Frank didn’t fail because he won his press conference, just as Cheeks won’t succeed because he lost his.
I guess I’ll have to wait until the fall for another chance to get truly excited, even if just momentarily, about Cheeks.
Repeatedly this season the coach has been asked if his team needs an identity. “No,” he replies
Is Maurice Cheeks a good offensive coach, a good defensive coach, both or neither? Do his teams play fast or slow?
It’s difficult to answer those basic questions. In eight years as head coach, Cheeks has led teams with varying identities. He’s coached three top-10 offenses and just as many in the bottom-10. He’s coached two top-10 defenses, and again, the same number in the bottom 10. Four of his teams played in the bottom 10 of pace, but another ranked as high as sixth.
Of course, Cheeks has coached two teams and a variety of players, so that certainly plays a large role in these stats. But the numbers can still provide clues.
Here are his ranks in three general categories (using the date of his last game during the years he was fired mid-season):
- Offensive rating: 6,8,10,24,13,26,20,28
- Defensive rating: 12,11,21,17,24,15,10,8
- Pace: 23,23,29,21,6,20,20,17
Now, lets look a little more in depth at each side of the ball.
Cheeks’ teams have placed in both the top 10 and bottom 10 in each of the offensive four factors, so it’s difficult to say with certainty there’s anything distinctive about his offenses.
Anecdotally, the 2007-08 season seems to support the theory Cheeks isn’t tied to a specific offensive style.
The turnaround can be traced to Dec. 4, when the Sixers hired former Nets G.M. Ed Stefanski to replace the deposed Billy King. One of Stefanski‘s first moves was to meet with coach Maurice Cheeks to discuss the team’s style of play. “I thought we could score some points if we played at a faster pace,” says Stefanski. “Mo was all for it. He was very comfortable with that style.”
On the Sixers’ turnaround, from 16–28 to 40–40
One day in practice, Coach [ Maurice Cheeks] was like, we’re going to start running. We did a drill, five-on-five, and just pushed it up the court. That changed things. We found an identity.
A coach with a more defined offense would probably be more dismissive of changing his scheme.
To a degree, I view this as a positive. It indicates a willingness to adjust to his players.
But considering Cheeks’ offenses have mostly struggled – and ultimate got him fired twice – a willingness to adapt means only so much unless he’s capable of implementing varying schemes.
Defensively, Cheeks’ teams are much more distinctive.
All eight have been very good at avoiding fouls, and most have been good with forcing turnovers. That can be a difficult duality to pull off, but perhaps Cheeks, one of the NBA’s all-time steals leaders, can teach how to get steals without fouling.
The downside to the going for so many turnovers is opponents have generally shot well and offensively rebounded against Cheeks’ teams.
Plenty of coaches talk about getting more aggressive defensively, but for better or worse, Cheeks has the track record to back it up.
36-year-old Marvin Cheeks, an older brother of the former Sixers star, was shot to death in Chicago Saturday night, the victim of an apparent robbery.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Marvin Cheeks had been at a bar and was supposed to have been en route to his girlfriend’s home. He was found 12 miles away from his destination, in the Hyde Park neighborhood, having been shot in the head and neck. He was outside his car, an Isuzu Amigo, that had been set on fire. The family told the Tribune that the Isuzu had been stolen twice.
The police apparently became aware of the situation when somebody noticed the burning vehicle and called to report it.
"His truck was burned up beyond recognition," said his father, Moses Cheeks. Moses Cheeks has offered a reward of $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the guilty party or parties.
Maurice Cheeks, contacted last night by the Daily News, did not want to discuss the situation. Earlier, he told the Tribune that "We were very close.
Families that grow up in the projects tend to be very close."
Maurice Cheeks stayed in his room at the team`s downtown hotel all day before the Bulls played the Atlanta Hawks this week in Chicago. That`s not unusual for most NBA players. But it is for Cheeks, a Du Sable High School graduate and Chicago native, when he`s back home.
“I have a difficult time staying (at his family`s home) these days,“
Cheeks said. “Whenever we came to Chicago, I always stayed there. But (now) I go into his room and his things are there, and it`s difficult seeing a lot of those things.“
Difficult for the battle-hardened veteran of 14 NBA seasons because those things are the possessions of Cheeks` late brother, Marvin, a Chicago firefighter who was murdered in a robbery last fall.
Cheeks had just been traded from the Knicks to the Hawks. Marvin Cheeks and his girlfriend had just spent a few days with Cheeks at his Philadelphia home. In fact, it was Marvin who had called to inform his brother of the trade.
“He saw it on TV and called me,“ Cheeks recalled in an even, almost emotionless voice, his eyes usually cast down. “I`d just talked to him, and a day later he was gone. It changed my whole outlook on life.“
A SOUTH Side Chicago man was convicted Monday of abducting an off-duty Chicago firefighter, robbing him and killing him before setting fire to the firefighter’s car on the West Side. Darryl Clemons, 20, of 4734 S. Woodlawn Ave., was convicted by a jury in the courtroom of Cook County Circuit Judge Shelvin Singer in the fatal shooting of Marvin Cheeks, 36, a Navy veteran who had been a firefighter for 11 years. Cheeks was the brother of basketball player Maurice Cheeks, who played last season with the New Jersey Nets. Last month, James Munson, 20, was convicted and found eligible for the death penalty in Cheeks’ murder.
How tragic. I can only imagine what Cheeks went through, and I’m sure his brother’s death affects him to this day.
I have no context, and I doubt any would matter anyway:
It was all planned out to, nothing serious just a joke!
I love that. Drummond is so caring, he’s worried people would think it would reflect poorly on Chris Brown.
Maurice Cheeks, a former 76ers All-Star player, should appeal to the Pistons players who want a coach who is a competitor, open and honest. By all accounts, Cheeks is very likable as a person because he possesses all those traits and that should make playing for him enjoyable.
But this seems to have extended to a belief that all his players have respected him and played hard for him at all times. This is simply not the case.
Wells also “verbally abused” Cheeks twice during games before 2003, once earning a third-quarter benching and once receiving no punishment.
Bonzi Wells was suspended for one game in March 2003 for cussing at Cheeks during a practice.
The Portland Trail Blazers suspended guard Bonzi Wells for two games without pay and stripped him of his title as co-captain Tuesday after he cursed at coach Maurice Cheeks during a game the night before.
"It just gets old. I’m sick of it," Cheeks said at the Blazers’ Tualatin practice facility. "I’m sick of always saying he didn’t mean it and all that. Players have to be accountable for what they do and what they say."
Wells swore at Cheeks on his way back to the bench and stood on the sideline and continued a profanity-laced tirade. Wells sat out the final 16:17 of the game, and the Blazers quickly lost the lead. The Mavericks went on to win 105-98.
Cheeks, who signed a one-year contract extension last week, was still visibly angry Tuesday over the incident, just the latest for the embattled team.
"Disrespect is disrespect," he said.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported that Cheeks is contemplating resigning as a result of the incident. Cheeks has been frustrated all season by Miles’ frequent tardiness and other behavioral problems, Smith reported.
"He blew up in the film session," said Cheeks, who characterized Miles’ comments as inappropriate.
According to The (Portland) Oregonian newspaper, Miles repeatedly called Cheeks a racial epithet.
Allen Iverson said today that he probably wouldn’t have been traded to the Denver Nuggets if Philadelphia 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks had managed personnel better and listened to his input. Iverson said he received no response after telling Cheeks that Andre Iguodala wasn’t a good fit at point guard. He said he wanted Philadelphia to trade him after he realized “what I was saying didn’t matter to the organization and to the coaching staff.”
Asked if he could have prevented his relationship with Cheeks from souring, Iverson said, “Maybe if I didn’t complain about losing. Maybe if I would have continued to feel like it was OK to lose basketball games. Maybe if I didn’t have any pride. Maybe if I didn’t have any competitiveness in me. Maybe if I didn’t have any heart, I wouldn’t have said anything about it. “You lose 12 out of 14, 18 out of 20 basketball games, something needs to be done. Something needs to be said. You’ve got to look at something else besides Allen Iverson.”
On top of all this, the players are tuning out the coach’s advice. Next time you’re at a game, watch the huddle closely during a time-out: More often than not, the Sixers are glancing at the Jumbotron and leaning back in their chairs instead of focusing on their coach and his clipboard. It’s not that the guys don’t like Cheeks — they do — it’s that he’s become a fun uncle to them, someone they like but don’t see as a source of wisdom. The team continues to play hard, but effort only means so much when your opponent knows their plays and you don’t.
Update: Matt Barnes also had issues with Cheeks (beginning at 4:09):
Bonzi Wells, Darius Miles and Allen Iverson can be difficult on a head coach. But so can Iverson, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey, and that didn’t stop Michael Curry, John Kuester and Lawrence Frank from being criticized for the disharmony that came with dealing with those Pistons.
Some of the details of players’ incidents with Cheeks – Wells repeatedly abusing him before being punished, considering re-signing because of Miles’ poor professionalism – also seem troubling. That doesn’t strike me as a coach who was capable of nipping these types of issues in the bud, but hopefully it won’t come to that.
Cheeks very well could connect with this group of Pistons and never have any personal problems with them, but to assume he will is to ignore history.
Maurice Cheeks has gout, and he did an interview to explain the conditions he faces and give people an opportunity to better understand the disorder. Matt Schneiderman of Everyday Health (hat tip: Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit Business):
He was suffering from an acute attack of gout, a type of arthritis. Gout is caused by an accumulation of sodium urate crystals in the joints that occurs when there is an abnormally high level of uric acid in the body. Long associated with status and wealth — the condition used to be called “the disease of kings” — gout is actually the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in men over 40. Though it typically affects the large joint of the big toe, gout can also strike the instep, ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows, resulting in sudden and sharp pain, tenderness, redness, stiffness, and swelling. The pain can be excruciating: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most painful, most gout patients rate an attack as at least a 9 — on a par with childbirth or a long bone fracture. Often linked to high blood pressure and heart disease, gout can be managed with diet and lifestyle adjustments and controlled with medications. Monitoring and treatment diminish the chances of painful attacks and long-term joint damage.
EverydayHealth: And you experienced more attacks?
Maurice Cheeks: When I left Portland for Philadelphia I had another bout, but it wasn’t as severe as the first. But earlier this year, I had another attack. The swelling was so severe that I couldn’t get my shoe on, so I was coaching from the sidelines wearing just one shoe. I put on quite a show, coaching the next five games without a shoe on!
EverydayHealth: What did you tell your players who asked you about it?
Maurice Cheeks: The players thought I got hurt playing, and I had no time to explain gout to them. They didn’t know the severity of my condition because I had never told them about it.
EverydayHealth: Did you face any misperceptions coming from them or from reporters?
Maurice Cheeks: I was asked about it a lot. There’s a humorous aspect to gout, and there was an assumption that I had brought it on myself. A lot of people laughed, seeing me on the sidelines without my shoe on. But it’s not a laughing matter. It’s a very serious problem with long-term effects. And it is very, very painful. I cannot adequately express the pain.
Good for Cheeks for sharing his story, no doubt informative and inspiring to those who are dealing with similar issues.
Allen Iverson and Chris Webber had been playing through injuries as Cheeks’ 76ers chased a playoff berth late in the 2005-06 season, but Philadelphia was eliminated before its penultimate game.
Picking up at Cheeks’ pregame news conference for that game, Associated Press:
Maurice Cheeks had just finished calling Allen Iverson the ultimate gamer, somene who always played hard and always gave his full effort for his teammates and fans.
That was before the Sixers coach was informed by a reporter about 55 minutes before Tuesday night’s tipoff against New Jersey that Philadelphia’s franchise player was not yet at the arena, and neither was Chris Webber.
So Cheeks left for the locker room, saw for himself the jerseys hanging in the locker, and returned to tell reporters the two were “not going to play tonight,” against New Jersey.
Cheeks didn’t bring up the subject with reporters until a TV reporter asked him, roughly an hour before game time, if he was aware that neither was in the building.
“You are expecting them to play tonight? You didn’t give them the night off or anything like that?” Cheeks was asked.
“I didn’t give them the night off, no,” answered Cheeks, who then left his office for almost two minutes to check into the situation.
“No, Allen and Chris are not going to play tonight,” Cheeks said upon his return, explaining their medical situation.
Asked if he made that decision because they weren’t there, Cheeks said “You know what? In practice today I didn’t know whether or not they were gonna play, and I assumed that they were gonna play, so I just made the decision they weren’t going to play.”
[76ers president Billy] King said he knew at Tuesday morning’s shootaround that Iverson and Webber would be given the home finale off because of injuries. But King did expect the duo to be at the game. Iverson was to miss the game with an ankle injury, and Webber had a sore back.
“I’d like them to be here, hell yeah,” an agitated King said on the court about 45 minutes before tip. “They’re not and I’m going to take care of it.”
With reporters staked out awaiting the duo’s arrival, King walked by the horde minutes before tip and let loose with a profanity-laced rant when pressed again about their absence.
coach Maurice Cheeks looked like a fool.
Then again, that was hard to do since neither King nor Cheeks ever talked to their stars to get an answer. Neither player spoke to the media.
“It makes me look like I’m not in control, which I am, but it makes me look like that,” Cheeks said. “I feel bad, not only for myself, but for our organization. It will be addressed and it will not happen again.”
Cheeks said he’d probably been “lax” this season in enforcing the time players needed to show up and that would be “cleaned up” next season. He also apologized to the fans.
“It’s unacceptable that they got here a little late,” Cheeks said.
Cheeks never said Iverson or Webber was not going to play for the 20 minutes he talked to reporters before he was told they had not arrived at the Wachovia Center. He looked dejected when he returned and slumped in his seat, looking much like he did 11 days ago when he remained at the postgame press conference podium, ice bottle on his head, with the lights turned out.
When asked if he was disappointed in the duo, Cheeks said, “I’m done, man.”
The way Celeste Whittaker tells it, first Cheeks didn’t know they weren’t there. Then he didn’t know how he was supposed to handle it. Then he pretended that it was his idea they wouldn’t play.
What a mess.