Dallas Mavericks: Where is Zaza?

The Dallas Mavericks have hit a rough patch in the last few weeks. Could this be in relation to the decline in time and production from Zaza Pachulia?

The Dallas Mavericks season this year has been defined by its highs and its lows. From starting off the season with fire and life and surprising performances and players, to the late season slump that we are currently enduring, this season has been a difficult one for many Mavs fans to stomach.

Dallas as a team is full of players in many different stages of their career as well. Deron Williams is looking to get the Brooklyn/New Jersey years behind him, Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons are talented players fighting off recent injuries, Dirk Nowitzki continues to fight off Father Time to remain a dangerous player in the league…and then there is Zaza Pachulia.

Feb 19, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia (27) reacts as he makes a basket during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Dallas Mavericks 110-104. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Zaza, coming in to the season, was a quiet player who got traded for next to nothing to become the DeAndre Jordan replacement. Tough shoes to fill, but the Mavs organization voiced their confidence in Pachulia’s abilities.

These votes of confidence had their place as was made clear right away from Zaza. He immediately revitalized his career and showed the Mavericks faithful just how capable and valuable he could be. In fact, the Milwaukee Bucks organization claims a lot of their downfall on the loss of Zaza from the bench squad and the locker room.

With 25 double-doubles on the season, Pachulia has put together the most efficient season of his career. Averaging 9.4 points and 10.2 rebounds on the year, it is hard to argue that Zaza has had a great impact on the Mavericks team this year.

The problem is, times are changing. Going into the All-Star break, Pachulia’s production began to dwindle and, with it, the Mavericks. I am not trying to associate the Mavs early success completely with the incredible performance of Zaza Pachulia, but it certainly helped more than it hurt.

After the All-Star break, the Mavericks signed David Lee and the impact was immediate. Lee started getting more minutes and JaVale McGee, Salah Mejri, and Dwight Powell all lost their places in the rotation with Carlisle electing to switch to a 9-man group.

The change to the rotation also affected the different lineups Coach Carlisle has elected to use, including playing Parsons at the 4 and Dirk/Lee/Pachulia at the 5 at different times. Because of the abilities and style of play that David Lee uses, Zaza has lost a lot of playing time and, with it, much of the effectiveness he brings to the team.

So the question is, what happened to Pachulia and why does he continue to lose minutes?

I don’t know the answer to this question, but if we continue to lose in the way that we have been over the last few weeks, maybe it is time to go back to the rotation and lineups that we previously were using.