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.


  1. 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!?”

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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……

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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……

  12. Laffy,
    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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.


  16. 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.

  17. I’ll take that as a “no”.

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

  18. …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…

  19. LOL!!

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

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



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



  21. 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.

  22. Cody probably could have been tougher against Butler – okay…..

    Laffy – dude you are getting way too worked up over a freaking message board. I did it once last year and regret it. Take a deep breath and it will all be okay. I don’t know any of you, none of you know me and vice versa – for the most part…. No reason to blow a gasket there francis… Don’t they have the massage places popping up in every mall in Indiana like here in CA? Spend $25 and get relaxed man!

    Harvard – I think you should consider writing a book – you are a clever mofo! Sometimes you post insane things but even then you do it with style.

  23. “I’m” getting too worked up?


    In case you missed it, it’s the other guys who are wetting themselves….LITERALLY…….because I said Cody hasn’t impressed me this year.

    I thought the issue was over but they keep CRYING with, “Why do you want to get rid of him?” and “Who would you trade him for” and all kinds of other nonsense.

    Seriously, go buy some freaking reading glasses.

    I’m just responding to their fruit cake nonsense.

    The ones “blowing a gasket” are them.

    1. Laffy,
      Stop with the name calling. I’m all for point and counter point — differing opinions make the world go ’round. But declaring everybody else morons, retards, fruit cakes, etc. for disagreeing is unnecessary. Just make your point.

  24. So, insults are ok as long as I don’t “name-call”?

    Because that’s all they’ve been throwing my way.

    How about if I call them liars?

  25. Really, I insulted you? You seemed to go over the top after one of my posts. What did I say, exactly, that was an insult?

  26. Take you “meditation” line and cram it.

    If you actually read this place, you’d see it’s the OTHERS who “need meditation.”

    All I said was Cody played like crap…which EVERYONE but BLIND “fans” agree with….. and hasn’t lived up to his potential….which EVERY expert says…. and all the clowns on here acted like I compared him to Hitler and said he’s the worst player to EVER suit up and that I’d WISH he was gone.

    Complete and total nonsense.

    And insult after insult after insult while spewing it.

    Don’t ask me to “be nice” on here with baloney like that.

  27. My bad.

    I thought showing Cody had ZERO fouls in a physical game, getting out-rebounded by half the other team, and showing he vanished after their 3 big guys fouled out was “something.”

    Same with putting up at least 3 different quotes of him bragging he worked on his outside shot because the team NEEDED it.

    All “nothing.”


    Like I said, you guys make Purdue fans look like the smartest people on earth.

  28. I hope, for your sake, you never get deposed. You’d really hate it.

    No ax to grind with you at all. You should know that by now. I just don’t get all the hostility. It can’t be healthy. For you, I mean.

  29. HC–

    Please tell me how any of you guys have “backed up any of your claims” besides whining, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    I’ve actually given proof.

    All you guys have is your “feewuns.”


    Again……..give that sermon to the others. All I said is Cody hasn’t lived up to his potential and the rest of you act like I called him a ——- who couldn’t make the local YMCA team and wish he’d never become a Hoosier.


  30. As I stated earlier, half the Butler team did not out rebounded CZ, just 2, count 1-2. Got it? You said he played like a girl against Butler. Name the female center who could have had better #’s than CZ against Butler. None is the correct answer. I know, I know you will shrill names at us and call it proof. My earplugs are in place shrill away.

  31. Chill Laffy, no one wants Cody to go. Ignorance is resorting to petty name calling and pointing at everyone else as at fault. Allow for difference of opinion and open debate dude.

    I for one hope Cody is a 4 year guy. For all his stats (and that is all they are, color me impressed) the thing that will make him the best player IU has ever had (Sorry Cal…) is to stay all 4 years. Yes he had a relatively bad game against Butler (that most centers would have been trilled with) while taking on 3 bigs that were playing hack a Cody the entire game (hey what works for them), pretty much single handed.

  32. No, ignorance is acting like I said “Cody is the worst player in the history of basketball and I’d rather anyone but him” when I never came CLOSE to saying that.

    It truly amazes me how you guys constantly give me advice you need for yourselves.

    “Allow for difference of opinion” indeed.

    You guys need to look in the freaking mirror.

    Funny you mention those 3 Butler guys because Cody did NOTHING after they fouled out.

    What was the excuse then? Sun in his eyes?

  33. HC–

    4 players on Butler had at least 5 rebounds out of 8 that played meaningful minutes.

    So, half their team at least matched “the best center in the country.” And one player had 9 and another 12 rebounds.

    I love how you ducked the fact he had ZERO fouls in a PHYSICAL game.

    Same as you ducked the fact he did NOTHING after THREE of their big guys fouled out.

    At least he tried a 3 last night…..even though it would have missed the ocean if he were standing on the edge of it.

    Maybe he should have spent the entire summer working on a hook shot instead. Or not waited to the last game of the pre-conference schedule to try it to get his confidence.

    Name one thing that Cody has gotten at since last year.

    It’s not rebounding.

    Or shooting.

    Or free throws.

    I don’t think SUCKS like you Drama Queens keep whining. I’m just saying it’s a joke he was considered the BEST PLAYER IN THE COUNTRY and that he isn’t even the best player on our own team.

  34. We are all pleased you have backed up from your statements in #18 and #33 that CZ was out rebounded by half the Butler team(rolleyes). You are more relevant when your backing up and not shrilling insulting names also. Glad to see JP made a positive impact on your posting etiquette. CZ is showing improvement from last year as the charts above well prove.

  35. Oh, so you’re beating your chest over “HA HA HA….Laffy was wrong. Half their team didn’t out-rebound Cody. It was only that half the team at least matched him. I sure showed HIM. HA HA HA!!!! That’s a GREAT excuse for ducking everything else he said……again.”


    “Charts” don’t mean anything to me.

    And are you really pointing at an .003 uptick in shooting percentage as “improving”?


  36. …you were the one who was wrong by saying “half” the team…

    Yes, charts are made up of facts and facts mean absolutely nothing to you.

    It sure is pleasant having our discussion without you shrilling schoolyard names. It has been a pleasure indeed.

  37. Good to see Washington back where it belongs: bottom of PAC-12. This year they will probably reach CBI Round One (if they get invited). The way they play it’s clear the Huskies will likely dismantle after this season and discontinue their basketball program. And next year they’ll pull the plug on the “football” program as well. But they need to lose one more time in the Apple Cup first.

    Crean on the other hand is absolutely awesome. I am so happy we have such a great pastor on campus.

  38. Poor widdle baby.

    All he can do is cry about something as insignificant as “half the team doing more” when it was “half who at least matched him.”

    Sad, sad, sad.

    Spare me the “charts of made of facts so you ignore it” because I keep pointing out it’s a FACT Cody had ZERO fouls in a physical game and you keep ignoring that.

    Same as the FACT Cody did NOTHING after their THREE guys fouled out.

    Basketball is not played on “charts.”

    I don’t need a “chart” to see that Cody is SOFT. Sure is odd you give Geoff a free pass for saying the same damn thing.

    So, are you REALLY bragging he’s “improved” because his shooting went up .003?



    Oh, and to steal your slam on me, “Of course you don’t care about Cody’s draft spot because it proves I’m right and he’s not nearly as good as everyone said because he hasn’t improved one single bit since last year.”

    Oh. Wait.

    His shooting percentage has gone up .003.


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