Scouting Report: Stephen Zimmerman

Stephen Zimmerman is a power forward/center from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Zimmerman is 7’0 and has a wingspan of 7’3. For the year, he averaged, 10.5 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game, 0.8 assists per game, 2.0 blocks per game, 0.5 steals per game, while shooting 47.7% from the field, and 29.4% from three.

Pros:

  • Efficient scorer around the rim
  • Good mid-range jumper
  • Three point potential
  • Good transition player
  • Excellent passer
  • Good decision maker
  • Handles the ball well
  • Defensive potential
  • Shot blocking instincts
  • Great basketball IQ
  • High motor

Cons:

  • Strength
  • Average athleticism
  • Struggles offensively in the paint
  • Consistency from deep
  • Strays away from contact
  • Interior defense
  • Rebounding

Overall:

Stephen Zimmerman has been surrounded with a lot of hype the past few seasons, especially when he decided to play for UNLV. Zimmerman never emerged as a dominant presence in college, despite being the best player on the team.

On offense, Zimmerman possess all the desired traits to become an effective scorer at the next level. In the post, Zimmerman is dominant with his left hand, and possesses a nice hook shot to get over opponents. Without any real strength, Zimmerman struggles to gain much, if any position near the rim, so without bulking up he will likely not be effective near the rim at the next level. In transition, Zimmerman runs the floor very well, and this is where he does best finishing at the rim. Due to his lack of strength, Zimmerman does like to shoot from mid-range where he is quite effective and consistent. He did try to stretch all the way to the three point line, which if he can find his shot will be a huge asset going forward, but for now, three point shooting is not an asset just yet. Zimmerman has shown great potential for the pick-and-roll at the next level, with his ability to crash or shoot from mid-range. As a passer, Zimmerman is tremendous. He sees the court extremely well from the post and perimeter, and can find his teammates to give them great looks. His assist numbers do not resemble him being a good passer, but he was surrounded by average college players at best. Zimmerman is also capable of handling the ball, which is a rare quality to see in seven footers.

On defense, all of Zimmerman’s problems came from his lack of strength across his body. His overall defensive awareness is above-average, and shows good ability to be a good team defender if he does not fill out his frame. On the interior, Zimmerman struggles with getting pushed around by stronger players. His length does make it difficult for opponents to get shots over him, which helps increase his blocking percentage. Zimmerman does have good mobility, so he should be able to step out to the perimeter to guard other stretch four or fives, and not be a liability. His shot blocking instincts are so natural to him. He does an excellent job of timing shots, and staying out of foul trouble. For his size, Zimmerman is not the best rebounder. He has the basic fundamentals down, but his lack of strength prevents himself from being a major factor, and people should be weary of this going forward into the league.

Overall, Zimmerman is an interesting prospect. He has all the intangibles to be a good to great two-way player, but his lack of strength holds him back from dominating on both ends of the court. His ability to shoot from mid-range cannot be overlooked either, as shooting becomes the most desired trait from executives. Many shot blocking prospects have very limited ability to guard on the perimeter, and with Zimmerman having this ability is defensive potential is very high. His draft stock is in the 20-35 region like many other questionable big men like Thon Maker and Cheick Diallo. Teams like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Boston will be actively looking into Zimmerman, as they look to increase their size, and ability to shoot from outside.

Pro Comparison: Al Horford

This comparison is best case scenario for Zimmerman, but it was hard not to draw conclusions for shot blocking defensive pieces, who love to shoot from mid-range. In order to reach this type of potential, Zimmerman needs to fill out his body, which NBA strength coaches will be eager to help him with.

On offense, both players are very good ball handlers. Horford has proven he can run the offense out of the paint when needed for Atlanta over the years. Zimmerman has similar potential when he finds his role within the offense. Both players have good court vision, which allows for them to be good distributors. In terms of scoring, Horford came into the league much stronger, as he spent a few years developing his body in college. Zimmerman will need to develop this type of strength to bully opponents for easy baskets, and to get to the line. In the mid-range, both players love to shoot. Both players have developed the ability to shoot from three, Zimmerman will need to become more consistent if he wants to win over the trust of his future coaching staff.

Defensively, both players are good team defenders, full of awareness. On the perimeter, both players have good mobility, and do not get burned by other big men on the three point line. In the paint, Horford does not get bullied by other players, but this is from his strength he came out of college with. Horford and Zimmerman show similar shot blocking instincts. They time their shots near perfectly, while also staying out of foul trouble. When it comes to rebounding, neither player is an elite rebounder. They have solid fundamentals, but just do not dominate on the boards as much as you think they would.

Zimmerman really could have used another year or two of college to build up his skills and strength, which would have led to a higher draft pick, much like Horford did. Zimmerman will need a few years to develop if you want him to give any meaningful minutes, but he has starting two-way potential written all over him. Zimmerman did not do a good job of wooing anyone at UNLV, and Horford has never really wowed anyone in college or in the NBA. Both players will give you efficient minutes, but you will usually forget about them when you are talking about good players.

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