Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2009-10 Season Review: Zaza Pachulia

NOTE: I'm moved this installment in the season review forward in the schedule to honor Drew's retirement from blogging.

Zaza Pachulia provided another season of solid post play off the bench. Better health for Josh Smith and Al Horford than either had in 2008-09 saw Pachulia's minutes diminish but his production was roughly similar. His scoring and rebounding declined a bit but so did his turnover rate, while he greatly increased his rates of steals and blocked shots.

Pachulia would be overmatched as a full-time starter but could probably continue to thrive in a larger bench role and could be the "true center" that allows Al Horford to play more power forward, a state of affairs for which many Hawk fans wish. Pachulia and Horford didn't play together much last season as Mike Woodson's fondness for strictly defined roles saw Pachulia cast as the backup center (and Joe Smith the backup power forward) for much of the season. In their brief time together last season, Pachulia and Horford proved an effective combination.

PlayersOff EffPossDef EffPoss+/-
Pachulia & Josh Smith109.5810111825-1.5
Pachulia & Joe Smith106655113.2660-7.2
Pachulia & Horford110.729196.9270+13.8
Pachulia & others103.7270101.9264+1.8

The Hawks were +1.7 per 100 possessions with Horford and Pachulia playing alongside each other for 672 offensive and 670 defensive possessions in 2008-09. That makes the Hawks +5.3 per 100 possessions (Off Eff: 104.7 Def Eff: 99.4) over the last two seasons (totaling 963 offensive and 960 defensive possessions) with Horford and Pachulia playing alongside each other. Still not a large sample size, but interesting.

If Pachulia could succeed as even a situational third post player rather just a backup center, that could allow the team to take greater advantage of his reasonable contract and invest more resources in improving their perimeter talent rather than shoring up the deepest part of the team's roster.

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