Look at the minutes played from year to year and you’ll see a perturbing trend.
Guys who stick around with the team — especially half-decent guys — should be playing more when they are coming up closer to peak years. Makes sense, right? Uh. Wrong. Or, at least, it’s wrong in Tyler Zeller’s situation.
This year, minutes have been really hard to come by for the big man. In the C’s last ten games on December 26, Zeller had only played in five of them. Oh, and he had only played seven minutes per contest. On the year, he had played in 25 of their 31 games, averaging 12.4 minutes per contest. Yes, this is the guy they were talking about starting over Kelly Olynyk last year. Not the best player. But not the worst either.
Look at how much Zeller played in the past. Specifically, yes, he was pretty much a starter for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a rookie in the 2012-2013 season, but he was also pretty much a starter most of the season on the 2014-2015 Celtics squad. Back then, he was playing 21.1 minutes per contest. Oh, and that was on a team who made the playoffs.
No. Zeller shouldn’t be starting. He’s not Al Horford. But he’s pretty much the odd man out in a four-man big man rotation. Here’s a list of the big men who play a lot. Al Horford, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko.
Honestly, it just seems weird Zeller doesn’t see much time. If he’s fallen out of favor, maybe the C’s really don’t need him. Oh wait, but what happens if someone gets hurt? Yeah, then they’ll be happy they have him. It’d be tough to find a team where one of the last guys on the bench was a half-decent starter quite recently. Just shows the kind of depth this Celtics team has — which is good.