LAS VEGAS -- The Mavericks recently acquiring center Zaza Pachulia from the Milwaukee Bucks via a trade for a future second round pick. To find out more about Pachulia, we sat down with Eric Buenning (@ericbuenning) from Brew Hoop to discuss the finer points of his game.
Doyle: When the Mavs signed Zaza, Mark Cuban said on his CyberDust app that he ran the pick and pop and shot it from the elbow as effectively as Dirk. Is there any truth to that?
Eric: Statistically, I doubt it. There's some truth to it, though. It's really the only shot he'll ever take: an elbow or baseline jumper. So it's true in that he can set good picks because he's huge. I doubt he would command double teams off of it but he's a decent option, considering you have nothing else in that regard.
Doyle: So he's not going to be working on the blocks?
Eric: He can, but he's probably most effective off the pick and pop?
Doyle: Mavs are an atrocious rebounding team. Tyson Chandler got 25 percent of all their rebounds last season. Zaza has never averaged more than 7.9 in a season. Do you see that going up much?
Eric: It probably won't go up much. He's not going to be as good as Tyson. That's impossible. He can't really jump and he's not going to go chase down balls too much. He's one of those dudes who mucks it up in space. He'll always get you five to six rebounds, but he's not going to get massive totals unless we're talking about tons of missed shots and he happens to be there to clean it up.
Doyle: So him getting a double-double is probably out of the question?
Eric: It's doable, but not regularly. He'll have stretches where he'll do all that stuff.
Doyle: His defensive numbers last season were pretty good. What is he doing on defense?
Eric: I'm not really sure. A lot of that was the system in place. Once defenders got to the rim, it was a giant statue of Zaza knocking them around. So I'm not really sure what he does. He's not a great rim protector. He can't jump high enough to protect it. He's a guy who will hit you a little bit to throw you off your game.
Doyle: What do you think his challenges will be moving into a starting role after being mostly a career back up?
Eric: He started most of last season. It's mostly limiting how much he has to do. If you limit him to being the trash guy he'll be fine but if you ask a little too much of him he might wear down a little bit. Last year was not a total outlier but he was really good. You've got to keep him doing the one to two things he's brought in to do.
Doyle: The Mavericks have recently been rumored to be interested in JaVale McGee and Samuel Dalembert as possible backup options at center. Who do you think is an ideal back up?
Eric: Who is on your bench?
Doyle: Dwight Powell.
Eric: Henson was his back up, so I imagine JaVale would be okay. I'm not sure if you want to consider a compliment to Zaza. Ideally you would want someone way better, someone who could move around a bit more because [Pachulia is] not guarding multiple positions. If you have some more flexibility behind him, that's probably your best bet.
Doyle: What's he like in the locker room?
Eric: Real good. He's not super talkative but he always makes time for everyone. He's a real professional.
Doyle: What's he like as a guy?
Eric: I didn't talk to him that much.
Doyle: Is he stylish?
Eric: Real stylish.
Kirk: Tell us about the rap.
*Eric pulls up Pachulia's rap track on his phone and plays it.*
Kirk: Dallas' marketing team is fun, how is he with that stuff?
Eric: He's good. He's not super outgoing but he'll go along with everything. He'll be more than happy to do skits. You know the Game 7 stuff, right?
Kirk: You're telling us he's better suited as a backup, but if Dallas is trying to not be God awful, he's going to be OK.
Eric: He is who he is. He'll do his job and you'll appreciate it.
Kirk: Dallas operates off of space in their offense. If he can pass the ball at all...
Eric: do you guys run HORNS a lot?
Kirk: It's a lot of spread pick and roll stuff. The center operates in the lane and near the free throw line, setting screens and diving.