Waiver Wire Add – Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted 7’0, 250 pounder, Tyler Zeller, with the 17th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.  Zeller was a four year player at North Carolina where he averaged 12.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over a 117 game career.

Zeller got off to a rough start to the 2012-2013 NBA season by getting injured in the Cavs fourth game of the year.  He suffered a concussion and non-displaced fracture of the orbital bone.  That type of injury would knock many guys out for weeks, it kept Zeller out just four games.   The kid is definitely tough, but the injury put him behind in his development this season.  He’s just now looking healthy and ready to improve.

Since returning from the injury, Zeller has logged nearly 24 minutes a game while posting 6.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and .7 blocks.  His only drawback is the 3.2 fouls that he’s averaged in his 24 minutes.  It isn’t bad, but it definitely needs to improve a little and it should once he gets a little more familiar with playing defense at the NBA level.

While the above numbers don’t scream ‘must add’, the fact that the coaching staff trusts him with 24 minutes a game says quite a lot.  Also, the Cavs aren’t exactly loaded with big men that have anywhere near the ceiling for improvement that Zeller has.  Given that trust and lack of real competition, Zeller should continue to see 25-28 minutes a game.

Zeller’s current outlook makes him an attractive add in redraft leagues and a definite add in keeper leagues, but the real upside here is the possibility that the Cavs decide to trade Anderson Varejao now that his trade value is probably at it’s absolute peak.  If the Cavs trade Varejao, it opens a ton of playing time for Zeller, either at power forward or more likely at center.

Zeller has a bright future in the NBA and should be rostered in most standard to deep sized leagues, and definitely in keeper leagues.

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