Joining a new team is always a challenge. This is true especially for role players, who are now in a completely new system. It was a similar experience for veteran center Zaza Pachulia when he joined the Warriors back in 2016.
The Warriors had just come off a Finals defeat, so they brought in another star in Kevin Durant and also got Pachulia for depth. Their system involved a lot of off-ball movement and spacing. This was all new for the Georgian, so he was struggling. But then, coach Steve Kerr helped him to settle in easily.
While appearing on the Runnin’ Plays podcast, Pachulia narrated how Kerr helped him.
He said, “Steve called me one day after the practice and he goes, ‘Zaza, is everything OK?’ And I’m like ‘What do you mean, coach? I’m fine. I’m healthy.’ And he was like ‘No, how do you feel on the court? I know it’s different, obviously. Different system.’
“He said, ‘Who’s your head coach?’ I said ‘You are.’ And he said ‘What about assistant coaches?’ I said ‘Well, we have Mike Brown and the legendary Ron Adams and all those guys.’ [And Kerr says] ‘What about the teammates?’
“And I said I saw Steph, as always, after the practice, he was getting his 3-point shots with KD. And Klay was on another basket. And Draymond was working on his floater. I said, ‘All these guys are my teammates, obviously.’
And he said, ‘That’s what matters the most.’ And he said, ‘We love you. We love what you bring for this team. And that’s what matters the most.'”
He was a starter for the Warriors throughout the regular season but had a reduced role in the playoffs. During the 2017 Playoffs, he started every game except for Game 3 and Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. He played around 15 minutes per game and helped with defense.
However, in the 2018 playoffs, he barely played 25 minutes in the whole postseason, but he was part of the Warriors successive title party.
But the most infamous contribution from Zaza to the Warriors will be the notorious play during Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals. As Kawhi Leonard took a jump shot, Zaza landed on his already-injured ankle, causing Leonard to miss the rest of the playoffs. In the following season, he played a total of just nine games.
Zaza has recently tried to clear his name from that incident, but unfortunately for him, fans will not easily forget that day easily.
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