Fantasy Basketball: Maybe Zaza to Fill Al Horford's Shoes?

Ryan LesterSenior Writer IJanuary 13, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 03:  Zaza Pachulia #27 of the Atlanta Hawks looses control of the ball against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on January 3, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

You'd have to have a good poker face to let on that Al Horford's injury wasn't troublesome to your fantasy squad. I'm not saying that Zaza Pachulia is going to be the answer to all of your needs, but he can help.

Zaza has stepped up his game since Horford went down, averaging 31.0 minutes, 10.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.5 blocks.

He only played 20 minutes in three of his first 10 games, averaging 10.0 points and 8.0 rebounds, suggesting that his two-game spurt is not a fluke. The bottom line is when Zaza plays, he gives you a near double-double effort.

Obviously, Horford was a different player than Zaza. I wouldn't be surprised if he comes close to matching the scoring and rebounding production, but you're going to have to look elsewhere for the loss in blocks and steals. Zaza just isn't the same level of defender as Horford.

Pachulia is most likely available as he is owned in just 13.0 percent of Yahoo! and 6.1 percent of ESPN leagues. He has big shoes to fill, but he has shown he is capable when he gets the opportunity.

During the 2005-06 season, Zaza averaged 31.4 minutes, 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. The following year, he averaged 28.1 minutes, 12.2 points and 7.0 rebounds. 

In deeper leagues, you can possibly turn to Ivan Johnson. He came off the bench to play 21 minutes for the Hawks last night, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He should see more opportunities as he teams with Zaza to fill Horford's void.


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