The San Antonio Spurs have signed 30-year-old free agent center Tyler Zeller to a deal for the remainder of the season with a non-guaranteed second year.
Multiple reports have emerged stating that the San Antonio Spurs have come to a deal with free-agent center Tyler Zeller, but the signing comes at no surprise. With an injury to LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl recovering from an MCL Sprain, the Spurs were in desperate need of depth in the frontcourt.
San Antonio is currently 0.5 games out of the 9th seed in the Western Conference and is only four games out of the 8th seed. With the NBA citing a “play-in tournament” if the eighth and ninth-seeded teams. should they fall within four games of each other, the Spurs need all the help they could get at a position of need.
Zeller, a 30-year-old center from UNC, hasn’t played many NBA minutes over the past three seasons. Playing in only six contests last season and 24 the year prior, the Spurs won’t be looking for any sort of high-level production over an extended period of time.
Sources: Spurs are signing center Tyler Zeller for the remainder of the season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 24, 2020
The signing of Zeller, whose brothers Cody and Luke have also spent time in the league, comes at a time of need for the Spurs. Zeller will be looked at as more of a filler-level player. Your typical third big off the bench role that shouldn’t see many, if any, NBA minutes unless Jakob Poeltl or Drew Eubanks get caught up in injury trouble.
Should Zeller get the opportunity to play a lot of minutes, the Spurs will be in a world of trouble. He isn’t a player that should see many minutes because he’s not at an NBA-caliber talent and won’t contribute all too much.
His skill set is similar to the rim-running big men you see in this day and age of the NBA. Outside of a putback dunk, a tip-in, or a finish at the rim off of a pick-and-roll, he won’t give you much of anything offensively. His biggest contribution to the offensive end of the floor will be in the screen game, setting picks off of the plethora actions, which holds big value to the Spurs’ offense.
Zeller is at his best as a rebounder. He attacks the glass with tenacity and that’s a trait the Spurs desperately need. San Antonio feeds off of second and third opportunities, so Zeller’s work on the glass will be appreciated in that aspect.
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He also adds a bit more size to the frontcourt, standing as a true 7-footer. Although he’s one of the taller bigs on the team, he’s a bit out of his element defensively.
He isn’t a great rim protector, nor is he an adequate pick-and-roll defender. Despite having a 7’0.5 wingspan, he doesn’t use his size or length well on the defensive end. He’s a bit stiff in the lower half and is slow to react defensively, which is one reason why he hasn’t stuck in the league for a long time.
The Spurs won’t expect him to fill a role close to Poeltl’s, should he miss time, let alone Aldridge’s, as he isn’t nearly as skilled as they are. Zeller’s skill set is closer to Poeltl, but he isn’t in the same realm as Jakob when it comes to the impact and contribution on the floor. Look for Eubanks and/or Chimezie Metu to get more minutes than the newly-acquired big man.
Also, should a healthy Poeltl be active at Disney, he’ll be seeing a noticeable uptick in playing time.