Charlotte Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing wants gangly power forward Cody Zeller to expand his offensive repertoire and become a better defender this offseason.
The 21-year-old Zeller, who was taken fourth overall out of Indiana, badly disappointed as a rookie.
A former Hoosiers center, the 7-foot, 240-pound Zeller only averaged 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists over 82 games.
“We need for [Zeller] to do it on both ends, not just look to score,” said Ewing, 51, a three-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
Zeller was exposed when Syracuse battered Indiana in March 2013 and he shouldn’t have prematurely bolted from Bloomington.
An All-Big Ten First Team choice, Zeller still lacks the physicality to compete with rugged opponents.
Working on a diploma, and coming from an affluent family, Zeller should have purchased insurance and resurfaced at Assembly Hall last autumn.
Zeller could have led Indiana to their first title since 1987 and jockeyed to become the top pick in either the 2014 or 2015 draft.
Despite Zeller’s uninspiring play, Charlotte finished 43-39 and qualified for the playoffs as a seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Al Jefferson, Gerald Henderson, Lance Stephenson, Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams and Noah Vonleh as teammates, Zeller’s sophomore campaign could primarily be spent on the bench.
At best, surrounded by solid talent, expect “The Big Handsome” to again look homely on the professional hardwood next winter.
Ultimately, unable to make a shot beyond eight feet, Cody Zeller’s decision to leave B-Town for The Hornet’s Nest will sting for years to come.