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ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg feels that Tyler Zeller coming over to the Celtics could be a big help for Boston in the middle:
For the size-deprived Celtics, landing a skilled 7-footer might have been the coup of a risk-free trade that also brought veteran guard Marcus Thornton and Cleveland's 2016 first-round pick. The 24-year-old Zeller, a former first-round selection (17th overall in 2012), should compete immediately for minutes at the center position.

I have been a fan of Zeller's since he played for Roy Williams at North Carolina. The reason for this is he was one of the most fundamental big men I have seen on the collegiate level in probably ten years.

Having played for some excellent coaches in my youth including my father as well as Aubrey McCreary, I have an appreciation for a player who understands how to play the low block and just the game of basketball in general.

So much of that is lost anymore in AAU ball which is more focused on exposure and playing games as opposed to devloping individual skills.

Stevens, who was familiar with Zeller having recruited both his brothers (all three were Mr. Basketball in Indiana), elaborates on this point:
"First and foremost, I think he's a great transition rim-runner," he said. "I think he can really get out and fly up and down the court. And I think that showed itself a lot at North Carolina. A guy with his skill can score on the block but also stretch the defense and has enough handle and savvy to play facing the basket. And you can kind of play around him -- not too dissimilar from some of other big guys that we have now. He's 7-foot, 250 pounds, and takes really good care of himself and is an invested pro."

Zeller is more of a skilled four in NBA terms so I'm not really certain if he's really going to make that big a difference on the defensive end.

Forsberg brings up some interesting stats to refute that notion however:
Zeller has the length and athleticism to deter shots -- opponents shot just 47.3 percent near the rim against him this past season, according to the league's player tracking data. That's a respectable number when you consider that opponents shot 47 percent against Indiana's David West and 46.8 percent against Chicago's Joakim Noah.

Although, Brad Stevens' thinking is more in line with mine and cautions against over excitement:
"We've talked about how, in an ideal world, Sullinger plays the 4," Stevens said. "At the same time, I think Tyler would be the first to tell you he's not going to block shots like [Dikembe] Mutumbo or some of the great shot-blockers in the history of the game. He's more of a position defender. He's a strong guy. He's an agile guy. He can move his feet laterally. But he's not necessarily a huge shot-blocker at the rim.

"Now, there are different ways to affect drives," he continued. "You can meet people outside the circle. You can jump straight up and still affect them with your strength and size if they go into your body, as long as you're vertical. That will be more of what he has to do."

Due to Boston's dearth of talent at the center position Zeller may even have the opportunity to start for Boston next season. This would give him the chance for the first time in his career to show what he really can contribute on the NBA level.

Whatever happens, fans are sure to appreciate Zeller's understanding of the game in the tradition of Red Auerbach and great Celtic basketball.

Follow Clint on Twitter @ClintCorey

Clint Corey 7/14/2014 01:02:00 PM Edit
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