Cody Zeller
Cody Zeller
27-Year-Old CenterC
Charlotte Hornets
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Zeller will anchor the frontcourt of a rebuilding Hornets team in the post-Kemba-Walker era. The big man averaged 10.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 blocks/steals per contest last season, playing just 25.4 minutes in 49 games. Zeller's health is a big concern heading into the 2019-20 season, as he's now appeared in just 82 games combined over the last two seasons and failed to finish a full season since his rookie year in 2013-14. The Hornets' frontcourt roster still includes Bismack Biyombo and Willie Hernangomez, who may take time away from Zeller. Biyombo is the better rim-protector and overall defender, and Hernangomez is a quality rebounder. Despite the likely competition for minutes, Zeller is still projected to be the starting center. And without leading scorers Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb, Charlotte will have to get the most out of every player on the roster, meaning a possible bump in production if he can stay on the court. Zeller is not an exciting fantasy option, but the lack of depth on the Hornets roster paired with a potential starting job makes him a value option in later rounds of drafts. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a four-year, $56 million contract extension with the Hornets in October of 2016.
Solid numbers in preseason loss
CCharlotte Hornets
October 12, 2019
Zeller supplied 12 points (5-10 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 2-2 FT), six rebounds, three assists and one steal across 21 minutes during the Hornets' 100-87 preseason loss to the 76ers on Friday.
Zeller enjoyed a nice bounce-back effort on offense after having put up just four points across 18 minutes in the previous exhibition versus the Heat. The veteran center missed the last month of the 2018-19 regular season with a knee issue, but he appears to be back to full health and ready to slot in as the starting center for the Hornets once again.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Last year, between injuries and the presence of Dwight Howard, Zeller played a career-low 627 minutes. Considering the situation, it’s tough to even put real stock in Zeller’s fifth season. However, what can be extracted is Zeller’s struggle to stay on the floor. Over the past four campaigns, the Indiana product is averaging 57.5 games played. So, even optimists about his upside have reason to give pause. While not a volume player by any means -- 9.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and a combined 1.8 steals/blocks during his age 23 and 24 seasons -- he reached a career-high 57.1 field-goal percentage during 2016-17, boosting his Fantasy value. It’s likely Zeller begins the 2018-19 campaign as the starter, though he’s never reached higher than 27.8 minutes per game -- another factor that limits his potential in addition to his injury history. Plus, with the myriad of other center options on the Hornets (Frank Kaminsky, Willy Hernangomez, Bismack Biyombo), there’s plenty of other players to turn to if Zeller isn't playing up to par.
Zeller continued to show improvement in his fourth year with the Hornets and despite being limited to 62 games because of quad injury, he still put together career-highs in minutes, points scored, rebounds, steals, blocks and field goal percentage. The bad news for Zeller is he'll likely be losing his starting role going into the 2017-18 campaign. Charlotte traded for Dwight Howard in the offseason and while nothing is official at this point, Howard is the favorite to start at center. That means Zeller will be the first big off the bench, and it's going to be tough for him to match his 27.8 minutes per game from last season. A more likely outcome is a slightly reduced role similar to the workload he was handed in his second and third years in the league. That said, Howard has a lengthy injury history, so Zeller will likely fill in as the starting center if anything does happen to the former All-Star.
Zeller took a step forward in this third NBA season, averaging career highs in scoring (8.7 points per game), rebounding (6.2), steals (0.8), blocks (0.9), minutes (24.3) and field-goal percentage (52.9%). The former lottery selection moved into the starting lineup at the beginning of December and would hold onto the designation for the rest of the season, finishing with 60 starts in 73 games. Entering 2016-17, Zeller is again expected to start at center, but he’ll face competition from veteran Roy Hibbert for those duties. In addition, Frank Kaminsky and Spencer Hawes are around to vie for minutes in the frontcourt, but unlike those two, Zeller is expected to play almost exclusively at center, given his limited shooting range. While Zeller was one of 17 qualified players to average at least 12 points, nine rebounds, one block and one steal per 36 minutes last season, Charlotte’s frontcourt depth will likely prevent him from consistently eclipsing 30 minutes in games.
In his second season, Zeller averaged 7.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 24 minutes per game through 62 games. He shot 46 percent from the field, 100 percent from downtown, and 77 percent from the free-throw line. It was only one three-pointer, but Zeller, who turns 23 in October, does have some nice range for a 7-0 forward. The Hornets let Bismack Biyombo sign elsewhere, drafted Frank Kaminsky and acquired Spencer Hawes this summer. Hawes has proven his inability to play power forward defensively, thus likely eliminating him from the starting lineup discussion. However, it's possible Kaminsky, whom the Hornets reportedly turned down multiple first-round picks for, could draw the start alongside Al Jefferson. Yet, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is also capable of playing the four, and Marvin Williams could be in the conversation. Regardless of who earns the starting nod alongside Jefferson, Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, and Nicolas Batum, Zeller will have to work hard to maintain his minutes load from 2014-15.
It was a tale of two seasons for Cody Zeller last season who was shooting a woeful 38 percent heading into the All-Star break, but his monthly scoring average increased consecutively in February, March, and April on his way to shooting 51 percent in the second half of the season. Because of that — and the departure of Josh McRoberts — Zeller could be considered one of the bigger sleepers in the league. He can play both positions up front and should be starting alongside Jefferson. Do keep in mind Zeller is still just 21 years old and started just three games in his rookie season.
Zeller will likely start for the Bobcats during the 2013-14 season and for good reason. He averaged 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.8 blocks over 32 minutes of playing time throughout four of the NBA Las Vegas Summer League contests. If Zeller is able to continue knocking down perimeter jumpers and finishing strong around the rim like he did in college, he will most likely be one of the Cats' top players right away.
More Fantasy News
Still out Wednesday
CCharlotte Hornets
April 10, 2019
Zeller (knee) is out Wednesday against the Magic.
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Out yet again
CCharlotte Hornets
April 8, 2019
Zeller (knee) remains out for Tuesday's game against the Cavs.
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Still out Sunday
CCharlotte Hornets
April 6, 2019
Zeller (knee) is out Sunday against the Pistons.
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Out again Friday
CCharlotte Hornets
April 4, 2019
Zeller (knee) won't play Friday against the Raptors.
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Remains out Wednesday
CCharlotte Hornets
April 2, 2019
Zeller (knee) is out for Wednesday's game against New Orleans, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer reports.
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