First impressions are important but sometimes they can be deceiving. Tyler Zeller's first few games as a Boston Celtic were very forgettable. He missed shots, saw rebounds bounce off his head out of bounds, and didn't look like he knew what he was doing out there on the court. Based on his recent play, however, we can at least hope that those early struggles were a case of getting used to his new team and environment.
Brad Stevens has been praising Zeller's progress in the little things that don't always show up on the box score and in the last couple of games he's been starting to fill up that box score as well.
Zeller began to right the ship Saturday night against the Knicks. He came off the bench and scored an efficient seven points while grabbing five boards. He was one of only two Celtics (Evan Turner being the other) to finish with a positive plus-minus rating in the game.
The big man teamed up with Turner on pick-and-rolls several times and took advantage of all the dishes the point guard sent his way to the tune of 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting. Zeller showed a nice quick release on an assortment of shots in the paint on these hookups. As an added bonus, Zeller posted three blocks on the defensive end, strengthening his case to see some added minutes at the center spot on a team desperately in need of a reliable rim protector.
This is why I was excited about adding Zeller for (basically) nothing this offseason. I have no delusions of Zeller being a 3 blocks a night rim protector, but he's probably better at defense than I expected. If he can play within the system and grab some rebounds, that's about all we can ask. And if he can run the pick and roll and add some points here and there, even better.