After needing to relinquish the rights to Festus Ezeli and trade Andrew Bogut to accommodate the contract of Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors managed to make a value replacement at center by agreeing to terms with Zaza Pachulia.
Shams Charania of The Vertical first broke the news that the Warriors will be picking up Pachulia on a one-year $2.9 million contract, which is the "room exception" that was described pretty well last year by Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors. It's one heck of a signing for a player who actually fills a need on what has suddenly become one of the all-time great super teams in history today.
Vertical Sources: Free agent center Zaza Pachulia has agreed to a one-year, $2.9M deal to sign with the Golden State Warriors.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 4, 2016
Warriors look at Pachulia as a versatile true center who can give them almost as much as Bogut did, in different ways.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) July 4, 2016
6-foot-11, 31 years old, gives you rim protection and rebounding for cheap. Pretty swift move from Bob Myers https://t.co/pro4KL36KP— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) July 4, 2016
What Pachulia does well that the Warriors have lacked in recent years — or really since Danny Fortson maybe? — is offensive rebounding. Pachulia has ranked in the top 10 in the league in offensive rebounding for the past two seasons, finishing last season with the Dallas Mavericks ranked sixth with an offensive rebounding percentage of 13.7%. Pachulia wasn't much a big scorer with the Mavs last year (16.2% usage), but has shown the ability to step away from the basket and shoot at times in his career and
On the other end of the ball, he and Bogut's defensive rebounding abilities are nearly even (25.7% and 26.0%, respectively). Pachulia is not the rim protector that either Bogut or Festus Ezeli (or even Dewayne Dedmon) were last year, but his 52.4% field goal percentage allowed was equivalent to Andre Drummond and a hair ahead of Tristan Thompson while his contest percentage was among the league's top 25, according to Nylon Calculus. He's not at all replacing what Bogut offers on defense, but he's doing enough to make this a pickup of enormous value.
Zaza Pachulia allowed a 52.2 FG pct when defending the rim last season (Andrew Bogut - 45.2%)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 5, 2016
When you add that Durant is a much better rebounder than Harrison Barnes was, you suddenly see that today's moves made the Warriors a much more formidable rebounding team — it might be the weakness they've bolstered that gets lost in the shuffle of simply getting Durant.
Looking at the big picture, this move makes a ton of sense for the money spent. For reference, Andrew Bogut's offensive rebounding percentage was 9.9% last season and Festus Ezeli's was 13.7% (in 46 games). When you pair Pachulia's rebounding ability with his ability to pass reasonably well and hit free throws (74.6% career FT%) — thus meaning he's not an offensive liability — this was probably the most efficient replacement available for what the Warriors lost.
Zaza Pachulia is by far the best option the Warriors had available to them with the room exception they had. He’s their starting center.— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) July 4, 2016
Note: Warriors are not going into cap room next season, must save up for Durant's super-duper-max next July. https://t.co/vc6lITnkLe— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) July 4, 2016
Pachulia for the room exception basically rules out Nowitzki, but Dirk wasn't leaving and Pachulia was very high on GSWs' list.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) July 4, 2016
For more on what the Warriors have accomplished on Independence Day, check out our Kevin Durant storystream.