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Golden State Warriors: Zaza Pachulia is the key to NBA Finals return


The Golden State Warriors had a makeover during the offseason, while most were centered around the signing of Kevin Durant the rest of the frontcourt changed as well. Gone are Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, and Marreese Speights and in are David West and Zaza Pachulia. West will take over for Speights while Pachulia will move into the starting 5.

Did the Warriors up or downgrade at the Center position? Bogut wasn’t asked to be a scorer while with the Warriors, but early in his career, he did just that with averages of 14 points and 10 rebounds. But he was more of a rim protector with the Warriors as his points dropped to under seven and rebounds bordered between 7-8. With Curry, Thompson, and Green at the helm, his offense wasn’t needed as he managed to play only 23-minute per.

Pachulia finds himself in a unique situation entering 2016. Will he be asked to do the same as Bogut and if so can he do it? Pachulia is not a defensive player, he can rebound the ball, as he grabbed nine per game last season with the Mavericks, but the team will suffer defensively with him on the floor. The Warriors ranked 19th in pts allowed and 25th in shot attempts with a defensive-minded Bogut.

The team improved offensively with Durant, but they will need to find a defensive stopper. Maybe Pachulia will focus his energy on that end of the floor knowing that’s his new role. The Warriors score at a high rate but they also shoot 32 three-pointers per game (without Durant), when missed can lead to easy fast breaks for opposing teams.

The Warriors are not a halfcourt team. To be one they will need a little post game, and that’s a luxury they do not have. During the Conference Finals, the Thunder forced them into that and went up 3-1, in the NBA Finals the Cavs did the same and overcame a 3-1 deficit. They were exposed, and maybe they will try to run a little offense through Pachulia in the post, but he is not known for his passing abilities.

While fans were looking at the Durant signing as the best move in free agency they overlooked what they let go in the process, the one dimension that made them better than any other team. As long as they have Curry, Thompson, Green and Durant the Warriors it would seem have a clear path to the Finals, but what happens when it’s time to defend? If Pachulia commits on that end, the dynamic stays the same, but if he can’t, we will see just how important Bogut was.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]