When thinking of Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller, injuries can be the first thing that comes to mind.
And with good reason.
Since the 2016-17 season, he’s missed 105 out of a possible 264 games.
Zeller, who was taken fourth overall in the 2013 draft, suffered a hip contusion Monday night, causing fans to once again worry about losing their starting center for an extended period of time.
At 27, Zeller is theoretically entering the prime of his career.
Zeller has mainly dealt with knee soreness and a broken hand over the last few years, but had remained healthy through Charlotte's first 18 games this season.
He's missed one game this year due to a personal issue. Outside of that, he’s averaging career-highs with 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Not including this season, Charlotte is 42-60 (.412 winning percentage) since 2016-17 without Zeller.
One of the biggest flaws in Zeller's game has been his lack of 3-point shooting, which former head coach Steve Clifford said was a must for Zeller to take the next step.
"We want to play through him," head coach James Borrego said earlier this season. "Cody allows us to play a number of ways, especially with pace. He's a great runner. He starts our offense in transition.
In today's NBA, big men are expected to shoot the long ball.
Zeller and current head coach James Borrego preached prior to the season that the Indiana product would work on developing a 3-point shot.
It looks to have worked as he’s making 35.4% of his 3-point attempts. His 11 made 3s this season is already a career high.
Compare that to over his first five seasons when he took only 16 3-pointers and made just four.
Lopez totaled just seven 3-point attempts in his first six seasons.
He led the league last season with 7.9 attempts per game.
Philadelphia 76ers all-star Joel Embiid is averaging 3.7 3-point attempts per game in his four-year career.
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl Anthony-Towns has increased his 3-point attempts from 1.1 per game as a rookie to 9.0 this season.
To improve these numbers, Zeller has to be given the opportunities and so far it's been gradual, but still not enough.
Zeller has brought consistency to the center position that other Charlotte centers on the roster like Bismack Biyombo, Willy Hernangomez, Dwight Howard and Frank Kaminsky haven't been able to fulfill.
"We don't have the one dominant center/power forward like a Tim Duncan that can get us 20 rebounds a night," Borrego said. "Zeller is our top rebounder at 7 or 8 a game and he has to work his tail off to get those."
In the previous three seasons, Charlotte has had a +6.2, +4.6 and +1.4 plus/minus rating, respectively, with Zeller on the court.
To improve, staying healthy is the first priority.
"I think I'm in a good spot right now," Zeller said during training camp. "Freak things happen and hopefully the worst of that is behind me. But we'll be cautious with how much I'm practicing and lifting."