Is Cody Zeller better?

The question was posed on this morning’s IU sports chat as to why people were having such a negative reaction to Cody Zeller’s season. That prompted me to take a look using both traditional statistics and efficiency statistics to determine how Zeller’s current season stacks up against his freshman campaign.

Here’s a look at how Zeller’s per game numbers stack up courtesy of

2011-12 28.5 5.6 8.9 .623 0.0 4.5 6.0 .755 6.6 1.3 1.4 1.2 1.7 2.7 15.6
2012-13 27.6 5.6 8.9 .626 0.0 5.3 7.4 .708 8.1 1.3 1.1 1.3 1.3 1.8 16.4
Career 28.3 5.6 8.9 .624 0.0 4.7 6.4 .741 6.9 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.6 2.5 15.8
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/27/2012.

As you can see, his field goals made and attempted are unchanged, with a slight increase at the free-throw line responsible for the 0.8 increase in points per game. He’s rebounding a little better and fouling a little less, while steals, blocks, assists and turnovers are virtually the same.

Now, more interesting (I think) are looking at Cody Zeller’s numbers in terms of efficiency. According to these numbers, Zeller’s player efficiency rating (PER) is up from 31.3 to 33.7. At the same time, his total rebound percentage (TRB) is up from 14.2 to 16.7.

2011-12 31.3 .665 .623 11.3 16.8 14.2 9.5 2.9 4.3 12.4 24.3 132.1 95.8 4.7 2.5 7.2
2012-13 33.7 .660 .626 13.6 19.2 16.7 8.9 2.2 5.0 9.7 24.1 139.3 80.4 1.6 1.7 3.3
Career 31.9 .663 .624 11.8 17.4 14.8 9.3 2.7 4.5 11.7 24.2 133.9 91.9 6.3 4.2 10.5
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/27/2012.

One of the more interesting lines to me is the usage percentage (USG), which is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by the player when he was on the floor. Last year, the number was 24.3 percent. This year, even though it’s 12 games against mostly inferior competition, the percentage is slightly down to 24.1.

The usage percentage is followed by ratings for offense (ORtg) and defense (DRtg), an estimate of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions. Zeller is providing seven points more on offense and 15 points less on defense. And then there are win shares (WS), roughly the equivalent of wins above replacement (WAR) in baseball sabermetrics. Zeller was responsible for 7.7 wins in 36 games last season. He is responsible for 3.3 wins through 12 games this season. Triple that number for a full season, and you’ve got 9.9 wins for a full 36 games.

So, in the end, is Zeller better than last year? If better is more efficient, then yes. And at the same time, if anything, the Hoosiers have been less reliant (which corresponds to the team depth) on the sophomore. Whether those trends carry over to Big Ten play, we’ll find out starting Monday.

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  • phenomenal1 says:

    Very interesting. Thanks for posting that. I’ve thought he’s been pretty solid all year with the exception of the Butler game (he still scored 18, but seemed like he didn’t want to rebound at all.) It’s good to see the numbers back up his performance as we have seen/heard so many complaints about him all year long. After seeing the numbers, I must ask, what’s the fuss about? Is Hoosier Nation getting a tad spoiled? It seems so.
    It’s not just about him either, it’s the whole team. I have never seen such a negative reaction to a team thats lost only 1 game out of 12. Whether they win by 50 or win by 1, it seems none of the “fans” are satisfied. Someone (mainly Hulls and/or Watford) doesn’t play hard enough. It reminds me of the scene in Gladiator where Russel Crow screams “are you not entertained!?”

  • SoCal Matt says:

    I haven’t been impressed with Cody thus far. Against teams from power conferences he’s look veryyyyyy average. Barely played against UGA bc of foul trouble and overall sluggish play. Looked a little better against GTown with 17/8 in 42mins, added 20/8 in 28mins against UNC but most came on fast break against a terrible defender in Desmond Hubert or a very soft JMM, and lastly, looked TERRIBLE against Butler. Cody earned my “Euro Worthy Performance of the Week” award, meaning he shouldn’t consider himself a lottery pick anymore. When you get dominated by Andrew Smith in every aspect you shouldn’t even be allowed to enter the NBA Draft. Call me ridiculous but that performance was embarrassing.

  • Southport65 says:

    The NBA does not judge players on one bad game in 12. I am sorry we lost to Butler but I am sure North Carolina did not like losing to them either.Butler has a tough team for anyone who plays them. Maybe will will get a chance to play them in the tourney for a rematch. The guy Cody gets compared to the most is Plumlee form Duke but if you give Cody the extra 5-6 minutes a game that Plumlee gets his numbers would, on average, be better than the Duke kid. There is a lot of basketball to play against a lot of very good Big Ten teams. I would say it is much to early to say Cody is not the best player. If IU wins the BIG Ten title and goes deep into the tourney or wins it Cody will be a lottery pick.

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:

    Way too much emphasis on this type of statistical garbage.

    Use your damn commonsense. If Cody isn’t on this team, there is no IU resurgence. There is no NCAA tournament berth last year. There is no restored limelight on the Indiana program.

    He could play like sh*t for 50% of the rest the season, go completely off the NBA draft board, and still be the singular most important recruit in the last 30 years for Indiana Basketball.

    Could he be hungrier on the boards at times? Debatable. Should he develop a few more post moves? Probably. Does he need a bit more versatility(turnaround jumper, mid-range jumpers)in his game to be a real force beyond the college game? Valid argument.

    Has he regressed? Has he not regressed? Pretty irrelevant to even discuss at this early point of his sophomore campaign. That’s all fine and dandy if it’s how you choose to waste your waking hours..But from my own novice eyes, I have seen very few 7 ft. centers in the college game that can run out on the break like Cody Zeller. There is far more to this kid than you’ll ever find in comparative stats. He’s a team player. He plays with composure and a headiness far eclipsing his class/age. He flexes his will far more often than his displayable ego. He wears down opposing centers and teams with his ability to let the game come to him and his understanding of how the game is played in chapters. He a phenomenally conditioned athlete.

    We are nonexistent without Mr. Zeller. The storied tradition of IU hoops and Tom Crean’s resume would have remained in a perpetual stall without the signing of Cody Zeller.

    Do you honestly think East Coast pipelines/pooplines even begin to develop without Zeller? Do you honestly believe we have the same patience with A-Hope projects without Cody Zeller?

    Flush the stats down the commode. Cody could have a complete crap season and he still keeps us relevant, in the hunt a deep tournament run, and steadily in the renewed limelight upon our program.

    To think of where our program would be without him committing at least two years to Indiana? Do you like cellars? Because without Mr. Zeller, it’s beyond embarrassment…Do you like IU Basketball evolving into the frightening reputation our gridiron team? A post-Sampson Hoosier life without Zeller is IU hoops rocking away its irrelevancy with all the vibrancy and lifeblood of Norman’s mother in the cold fruit cellar.

    Any IU fan attempting to back up a dump truck on Cody’s name is living in truth avoidance. You are in the privileged era, a chance to witness and watch a born and bred true Indiana Hoosier legend that has restored our hope to our IU campus. Rejoice that our prayers were answered. Hope is everything.

  • Laffy says:

    I’m not “spoiled” at all.

    My complaint boils down to two things:

    1) He played like a girl against Butler.

    2) He said numerous times he worked all summer on an outside shot so teams couldn’t double team him and we never saw it against Cupcake City which is when he should have practiced it.

  • Hoosier Horns says:

    Everyone seems to forget that Cody was pretty sick at the beginning of the season, including the games in NY.

    In addition, the comparisons between Cody and Plumlee aren’t realistic, when you figure that Duke doesn’t have the additional scoring options that IU has. Mason is also Duke’s only significant inside scoring threat or rebounder.

  • Laffy says:

    That actually makes a better case for Plumlee becaue if he’s their “only option inside”, he’d be drawing double and triple teams which makes his numbers more impressive.

    And Cody wasn’t sick for Butler.

    As far as DQAW’s nonsense….nevermind……

  • coachv says:

    basketball nerds and their stats. probably fantasy football geeks, too.

  • Chet says:

    Yeah, (sniff, sniff) but if you look at Cody’s left handed put backs, late in the second half, against zone defenses, in away games played during the week (or in December), you’ll see that his percentages, when compared with players over 6′ 9″, but not left handed, are…

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:

    Show me any SOS numbers that could have predicted Butler to be in back-to-back championship games. Show me some solid statistical correlations proving how a regular season of playing in the Horizon League prepared Butler for being within a few favorable bounces of two NCAA banners.

    The heart, instincts, maturity, savvy, chemistry, synergy.. are the mysteries forever immeasurable.

  • Geoff says:

    Not sure I’ll ever understand how your brain works Harvard, but you wrote a good one there…

  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    I look at it this way. What other big man in college playing both ends of the court would you rather have playing a full game?

  • Geoff says:

    None… But I do want him to be physically tougher.

  • Laffy says:

    What does HC’s question have to do with anything?

    I never said “trade him” or “he sucks.”

    I said he played like a girl against Butler…….which he did.

    I said he hasn’t shown us that outside shot he bragged about and said we needed…….which he hasn’t.

    We have enough strawmen on here to fill every corn field in Indiana……

  • Chet says:

    Is your online persona representative of you in real life?

    Just curious.

    Not that anyone asked but I’m pretty sure I’m more or less the same, or at least as close to the same as I can achieve.

  • Laffy says:

    I could ask the same question of you guys:

    Are you all Drama Queens in real life who make up straw man after straw man because the truth hurts your widdle feewuns too much?

  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    The Q is most relevant Laff-at. Pretty damn straightforward and simple. Pleeeeease enlighten us with the big man you would prefer. By the way what girl center would have better #’s against Butler than CZ’s 18 pt., 5 boards, 2 asst., 1 blk. and 2 stls.?? Played like a girl is impossible to backup.

  • Laffy says:

    If you guys want me to “be nice” on here, then you need to quit being a bunch of f-ing retard crybabies.

    How is saying a player isn’t as good as he could be implying I want someone else?

    Are you REALLY that f-ing ignorant?

    Half of Butler’s team had more rebounds than Zeller.

    He had ZERO fouls in a PHYSICAL game.

    And he did not demand the ball after THREE of their big guys fouled out.


  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    You make asinine statements and when we do not agree with them you revert to name calling because you have nothing to back up what you want us to believe. You have no answers for my very simple Q’s, so that makes me the moron. Pretty thin.

  • Chet says:

    I’ll take that as a “no”.

    Yes, you can certainly ask me the same question. In fact, I believe I answered it already.

  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    …oh, by the way for the sake of accuracy about your typical asinine statement, only 2 members of Butler’s team had more boards than did Zeller…nothing close to half…

  • Laffy says:


    Ummmmmmmmm, YOU guys are throwing out the insults and stupidity.

    Somehow you idiots equate “Zeller has not lived up to his potential” to



  • Laffy says:

    Dang, most of that got cut off. Let me try again:



  • Chet says:

    I hear great things about meditation.

  • Laffy says:

    I hear great things about eye exams and reading comprehension.

    You retards need to quit acting like a person said someone is the worst player in the history of basketball just because I said he isn’t living up to his potential.

    You fruit cakes make Kentucky and Purdue fans look smart.

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