One of the first things Flip Saunders told Cody Zeller before the Timberwolves worked him out Wednesday was that the 7-foot All-American "got his butt kicked" by Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe when No. 1 Indiana was upset in Minnesota this year. "In that game, (Zeller) played with his back to the basket," said Saunders, the Wolves' president of basketball operations and a former Gophers star. "It probably would have been more beneficial for him, rather than get in a wrestling match with Mbakwe, to face up and try to beat him with his quickness and ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter." Zeller's draft stock dropped after that game because it became clear his toughness was lacking. Projected as the No. 1 pick in the draft earlier, he could be available for the Wolves with the No. 9 pick. Toward the end of Wednesday's workout, Zeller showed a consistent outside shooting touch, drilling several jumpers between the free-throw line and three-point arc. He worked out individually following a group session that included Roseville native and ex-Bucknell center Mike Muscala, Pittsburgh center Steven Adams and French center Rudy Gobert. "Seeing him play in the Big Ten, seeing him play in the NCAA tournament, we're aware of what he can do in competition," Saunders said. "But he's going to play totally different (in the NBA). (During the season, we saw him) do things (like) handle the ball on the floor, things you might not see in a workout." "It was tough to show everything you can do" during the college season, Zeller said. "Things I wouldn't normally do in a game, I've been improving and were areas I improved on for the NBA." Saunders, who instructed some of the drills, was impressed with Muscala's shooting range, Adams' physical presence and Gobert's defensive potential and 7-foot-8-1/2 wingspan. Muscala is projected as a second-round pick. Zeller, Adams and Gobert are potential lottery picks. Zeller appears more able to help right away than the other two.
Cody Zeller's shooting touch a pleasant surprise
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Jun 13