Who should start at center: JaVale McGee or Zaza Pachulia?

Dec 8, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia (27) defends against a pass by Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) during the second half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Golden State won 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s closely examine the splits for JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia thus far this season.

For the past four games, excluding last night’s game, there was a different center in the lineup than Zaza Pachulia. One game Anderson Varejao would start. Another game it would be Kevon Looney or it would be JaVale McGee.

Now the question becomes: who should start at center for the Warriors?

Let’s compare McGee and Pachulia for this piece because McGee has got most of the starts in place of Pachulia.

With Pachulia out, the Warriors missed that hard-nosed toughness inside and the energy that he brings. They also missed his screening that would get shooters open. They missed his rebounding and his inside presence.

Let’s take a look at Pachulia’s numbers this season.

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 10.34.28 PM

As you can see, the offensive rating is down and the turnovers are up when he is not on the floor. Also, the steal percentage is down when Pachulia is not on the court. The assist percentage by the team is almost six points worse than when he is on the court.

Now, let’s look at McGee’s numbers this season.

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 10.34.43 PM

The offensive rating with McGee on the floor is much better than when he is off the court. Also, the true rebounding percentage is much higher when McGee is on the court rather than he is off the court.

The numbers say that Pachulia should start over McGee and I think the numbers state what should be true, which is Pachulia continuing to start at center. His toughness is unmatched to McGee. Additionally, he is able to make opposing big men catch the ball farther out than they would like and make them uncomfortable taking shots at the rim.

I expect Pachulia to keep starting because not only is he a key energy guy who gets the shooters wide open with screens, but also Coach Kerr likes bringing McGee off the bench in a “get-the-crowd-pumped-up-with-lobs” and it has worked thus far.

This article originally appeared on