During the offseason, the Detroit Pistons added depth and veteran leadership to the center position when they signed Zaza Pachulia to a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum.
Pachulia will play backup center behind Andre Drummond and will have a similar role that Aron Baynes had a few years ago with the Pistons. The 6-11, 270 pound Pachulia will be mostly used for screens, rebounding, rugged defense, and let’s be honest, a little bit of mayhem.
“He’s still productive,” said Pistons Head Coach Dwayne Casey. “I think our players figured out pretty quickly that if they came off his pin-downs, they were going to get open. He’s one of the best screen-setters in the league, an excellent passer and we want to utilize his passing skills with our three-point shooting. He still brings a lot to the table.”
In 69 games (57 starts) for the Warriors last season, Pachulia averaged 5.4 points along with 4.6 rebounds and although Drummond is better than him at nearly every facet of basketball, Pachulia is a better midrange and free throw shooter than his All-Star teammate. Last season Pachulia shot over 50% on jumpers from 10-16 feet and over his career, has connected on 75% of all free throw attempts.
Now let’s address the elephant in the room. Pachulia is considered one of the, if not the, dirtiest player in the NBA. From sticking his foot under Kawhi Leonard, to his propensity to elbow anyone near him such as Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Nikola Mirotic, etc. Hopefully, he does nothing that costs him any games because the Pistons will need him to spell the often foul-prone Drummond.
Overall, Pachulia is a reliable player in every way and has the unique ability to change the game with his hustle and dirty play. Fans of the Pistons “Bad Boy” Era will appreciate Pachulia’s willingness to mix it up and his inability to accept losing. Hopefully, some of Pachulia’s winning attitude will rub off on this young Pistons team as they aim to make the playoffs this season.
Featured Image: Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press