#17: Tyler Zeller
The Mavericks have selected center Tyler Zeller with the 17th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft but have traded the pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 24th, 33rd and 34th overall picks.
For the Cavaliers, the team gets a solid if not unspectacular center in Zeller who should be expected to start right away at center with Cleveland forward (and last year’s lottery pick) Tristan Thompson likely sliding over to power forward.
Zeller, a 7-footer out of out North Carolina, averaged 16.3 points (55.3 percent shooting), 9.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game this past season, his senior year for the Tar Heels. A strong rebounder and a quality player in the low post, at 22-years old, Zeller is one of the more polished prospects having been taken in this draft. Strength and athleticism are viewed as weaknesses for the big man but Zeller has the tools to be a solid contributor for the Cavaliers for the foreseeable future.
“Very excited to go to Cleveland,” Zeller said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to be able to play. I know that there’s great opportunity for playing time, as well as learning from all of the guys and the coaching staff. I think it’s a great honor to be able to go there and I really look forward to getting there tomorrow and meeting everybody.”
For the Mavericks, a team with what is looking like a barren roster going into free agency acquires three more draft picks. Filling out the roster is important but saving the cash by dropping from 17 to 24 is even more important for Dallas.
(With the 24th pick, the Cavaliers selected Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham for the Mavericks)
Also in the Mavs’ favor is they have the ability to conceivable acquire a couple of steals early in the second round. Also Dallas considers the talent drop from 17 to 24 in this deep of a draft class to be negligible.
“I would like to think I’m as good as three players,” Zeller said, “but I don’t know if that’s true.”
Cleveland drafts a need and the Mavericks are able to move down so this is a solid deal for both sides.