Warriors

Zaza Pachulia gets 2018 championship ring, visits ex-Warriors teammates

Zaza Pachulia gets 2018 championship ring, visits ex-Warriors teammates

OAKLAND – Even now there are times when the Warriors long for the assets of Zaza Pachulia, who did so many “little” things exceptionally well that it amounted to a unique greatness.

Take his picks, for example. Zaza is one of the best in the NBA at using screens to get in the way of defenders trying to get to his shooters.

Take his humor, for another example. The 6-foot-11, 270-pound center was quick with a quip, which often was made funnier by an accent from the Republic of Georgia.

Pachulia, one of the league’s ultimate blue-collar teammates, returned to Oracle Arena on Sunday as a member of the Detroit Pistons. He wanted to beat the Warriors, with whom he spent the past two seasons, but he wanted a reminder of the success he enjoyed with them.

Zaza wanted the jewelry he earned as a member 2017-18 NBA championship team.

He was presented his ring by the teammate to whom he was closest: Klay Thompson. The two met at midcourt a couple minutes before tipoff, with Thompson presenting the ring and Pachulia receiving a long ovation as a video tribute played on the big screens above.

“The championship ring experience is amazing,” Paculia said before the game. “But what I value the most is the friendships and relationships I’ve built with some of the guys and the things I learned from the coaches.

“That’s the most important thing because life is more than basketball. The friendships and relationships are going to go on for the rest of my life. I’m just lucky to experience such a time with this team on the court and, more important, off the court.”

Pachulia made 127 regular-season starts and 15 more in the postseason during his two seasons with the Warriors. His two young sons, Davit and Saba, were regular visitors at the Warriors practice facility in downtown Oakland, using the place as their playground.

Pachulia exchanged pregame hugs with most of the Warriors, with Kevin Durant interrupting his pregame routine to for several minutes to engage in conversation with Zaza and his sons.

[RELATED: Zaza shares Steph's text message]

“It’s great seeing them,” Pachulia said of his former teammates. “We’ve been in a lot of battles and winning a championship brings you even closer . . . because you truly understand each other. Without the culture and chemistry that you build, it’s impossible to win.

“Those guys are special to me. They’ve been great to my family and I call them family as well.”

Steph Curry shares his thoughts on Allen Iverson's 'top five' comment

Steph Curry shares his thoughts on Allen Iverson's 'top five' comment

At NBA All-Star weekend last year, Allen Iverson told Steph Curry that he's in his "top five all day long."

Since then, Iverson repeatedly has said that the Warriors' superstar would be his point guard if he was assembling an all-time starting five.

"You know what's funny -- I have that saved on my phone," Curry told Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on the latest episode of "All the Smoke" on Showtime (the full show will air this Thursday). "It's crazy. It's crazy, right?

"I ain't never had a big head. That dude who I picked up a lot of game and inspiration from -- he's now looking at my game ...

"Some OGs, they don't want to relinquish the praise. Same way we respect the OGs, we want it both ways. So when you do hear that, that means something."

As Steph said after Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals: "Low-key, I've always wanted to be like Allen Iverson."

It must be killing the three-time NBA champion to be sidelined with the broken left hand, especially on nights like Monday in Portland when he sat on the Warriors' bench while Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard dropped 61 points in an overtime win over the Dubs.

[RELATED: What names did Charles Barkley just call Steph and Klay?]

Now is the perfect time to remind everybody that the two-time NBA MVP averaged 36.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists against the Blazers in the 2019 Western Conference Finals, all while shooting 47 percent overall and nearly 43 percent from deep.

It's safe to assume that Iverson doesn't forget about that, and neither should you.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Why comparing Warriors' Eric Paschall to Draymond Green should stop

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Why comparing Warriors' Eric Paschall to Draymond Green should stop

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The offseason comparisons between Warriors rookie Eric Paschall and star forward Draymond Green made sense. Both were highly successful four-year college basketball players from big-time programs that were taken in the second round of the NBA draft due to concerns of their overall athleticism and their inability to fit in to a traditional position.

Both players supposedly were too undersized to play the power forward position in the NBA, but also not quick or polished enough to be small forwards. Even their physiques had similar builds. So with all of that, comparing the two players before the season began was logical.

But it is not anymore.

The most important caveat is that Green is a three-time All-Star, a Defensive Player of the Year, three-time NBA champion and at one point, was widely considered a top-20 player in the league. Conversely, Paschall is a rookie who has not had a chance to accomplish an NBA resume yet.

Comparing both players seems silly already, and it is unfair to Paschall for creating expectations for that type of success. And yet if the side-by-side comparison is simply regarding how they play, Paschall and Green are completely different in their skillsets and approach to the game. 

On the defensive end, Draymond is one of the best help-side defenders in the modern NBA. He plays a "free safety" type role, using his unique ability to read the opponent's every move while also having the quickness and strength to counter them. Despite being just 6-foot-6, Green is elite at guarding big men in the NBA, while also having the unique ability to defend every position on the court.

Paschall, on the other hand, still is learning to play defense at the NBA level, and even with that, has shown to be more of a one-on-one defender so far. While he is more accustomed to guarding the power forward position, he has had impressive defensive moments defending "straight up" against wings, sliding his feet and using his strength to force them into tough shots.

It will take time for Paschall to develop from a good defender into the great one that many think he is capable of becoming. Regardless, his current projection does not have him playing the same defensive style as Green.

On offense, the contrast between the two is even greater. Green became one of the most unique offensive threats in the game as a great playmaker in transition and out of the pick-and-roll. His ability to push the ball full speed in the fast break and expose slow opposing big men helped pave the way for the Warriors' "Death Lineup" that revolutionized small-ball.

At his peak, Green was a 39 percent 3-point shooter, but scored most of his points on the break attacking the hoop. His elite passing ability helped him rack up assists, where he could spread the ball around to the greatest shooters of all-time surrounding him. 

[RELATED: Why Dubs are in power position with Burks at trade deadline]

While Paschall has shown glimpses of impressive playmaking talent, his real bread and butter so far in the NBA has been dominating opponents one-on-one. He is remarkably explosive jumping off two feet, and he is able to combine his great strength with unique finesse when finishing over defenders at the rim. His shooting is very inconsistent from deep, just like Draymond, but he still is refining a mid-range pull-up that keeps defenders honest.

For being only a few months into this NBA career, Paschall already has become a "throw the ball to him and clear out of the way" type talent on offense. While Paschall might never be the type of offensive quarterback like Green, he already is on his way to becoming a more dynamic scoring threat.

Draymond will continue to take Paschall under his wing and teach him the nuances of the game. But when all is said and done, the two Warriors will complement each other very nicely on the court with their own personal skills and differentiated abilities, rather than repetitive and possibly gratuitous similarities.