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Ranking the Roster 2018: Ta-Ta to Tyler Zeller

The big man who came from Brooklyn narrowly edges out Delly

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In a narrow contest, Tyler Zeller snatched a single extra vote over Matthew Dellavedova to come in as the third lease valuable Buck in this year’s annual exercise. After saying goodbye to D.J. Wilson’s fluid hairdo and the isolation stylings of Shabazz Muhammad, the center who came over from Brooklyn last year is gone too.

I’m a little surprised Zeller got booted this early, particularly when considering his relatively decent production and minuscule contract. At essentially the minimum, Zeller seems like a decent enough deal for a third big, even if he rarely has to see the floor barring an injury. Sure, he shows little in the way of a workable shot and his athleticism feels akin to a stone golem, but he also posted a career-best 58.6% eFG percentage and almost exclusively operated at the rim as someone who could finish quickly off a pass from Giannis. He hit 67% at the rim, per Cleaning the Glass, just about in the 50th percentile among bigs.

As a team, Milwaukee also posted a +2.4 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court, per Cleaning the Glass, and that’s with only roughly 58% of his total minutes having shared the court with Giannis. Still, there are clear limitations to his game. While teams shot a few less shots at the rim while he was on the court, no one would consider Zeller any sort of a defensive dynamo around the rim. In particular, he got roasted in that Celtics series, especially after Milwaukee shifted to a switching scheme and found some defensive rhythm with Thon Maker on the floor. He’s also a one-note offensive player, good to clean up some dump-offs and putbacks, but little beyond that.

Wrapped up in his value is also the glut of centers on Milwaukee’s roster. Among those in this exercise (Henson, Wood and Maker), he has the least upside and athleticism. What he offers is usually consistent mediocrity, occasionally worse than that, and that’s not a very sexy attribute when you’re trying to build a team into contention around a star who thrives in the one area you typically take up permanent residence - the paint. One would guess Delly isn’t long for this world after coming in second on the last two voting installments, but we’ll see how this thing shakes out.


The next least valuable Buck on the roster is...

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    John Henson
    (85 votes)
  • 1%
    Sterling Brown
    (8 votes)
  • 7%
    Pat Connaughton
    (34 votes)
  • 31%
    Matthew Dellavedova
    (138 votes)
  • 0%
    Brook Lopez
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Ersan Ilyasova
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Donte DiVincenzo
    (9 votes)
  • 33%
    Christian Wood
    (147 votes)
  • 1%
    Tony Snell
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Thon Maker
    (4 votes)
438 votes total Vote Now