Out of the three players the Golden State Warriors drafted back in the 2019 NBA Draft — Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, and Alen Smailagic — it was widely believed that Paschall would be the most NBA-ready.
The scouting report on him, compiled by Synergy Sports, praised his physical attributes and experience playing for one of the premier college basketball programs in the country:
“Eric Paschall is a strong, athletic forward with impressive explosiveness and battle-tested versatility. A consensus top-150 prospect coming out of St. Thomas More School in 2014, Paschall averaged an impressive 15.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game at Fordham before transferring to Villanova. Carving out a significant role in Jay Wright’s rotation after his transfer year, the Dobbs Ferry native steadily grew into one of the team’s most valuable contributors averaging 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Wildcat’s 2018 National Championship team and 16.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a senior to earn All-Big East 1st Team honors.”
Upon being drafted by the Warriors 41st overall, immediate comparisons were made to Draymond Green, who had a somewhat similar profile prior to being drafted — one who possessed the valuable development and experience accrued by using up all of his collegiate eligibility, and as a result, possessed the tools to be “NBA-ready” out of the gate.
Paschall, while similarly built as Green — stocky, strong, and capable of being highly physical — may be more athletic. Paschall, measured at 6’6” without shoes, is naturally taller than Green, who stands at 6’5” barefoot. Paschall may also be a naturally-stronger player. Like Green, Paschall has an unorthodox jumper, but he may also be a better shooter.
Time will tell if Paschall develops to be the kind of passer and defender Green is, but the physical tools are perhaps already there, all of which comprise arguably the highest floor among this current crop of NBA rookies. With the proper development and experience, his ceiling will only stand to increase.
In only seven games, Paschall has already proven that he belongs in the NBA. With the slew of injuries plaguing the Warriors, Paschall has been forced to step into the spotlight, a position where it is all too easy for rookies to crumble under the immense pressure and the increased level of competition the NBA presents.
Paschall’s performance last night — a 34 point, 13 rebound performance against the prohibitive-favorite Portland Trail Blazers — was the latest proof of his immunity to such pressure.
Prior to last night’s game against the Blazers, Paschall had yet to make a single three-point shot, but not due to a lack of trying — he had eight attempts from beyond the arc going into last night’s game. Much was made of Paschall’s improved mechanics on his jumper. For reference, this is what Paschall’s jump shot looked like during his NCAA days with Villanova (timestamped at the 1:16 mark, where a side-view of Paschall’s jumper can be seen clearly):
Paschall had a knack for bending his legs while at the peak of his jumping motion. While somewhat odd from a visual perspective, it largely worked for him, shooting a respectable 35.6 percent on threes during his junior year and 34.8 percent during his senior year.
The much-shorter college three-point line certainly helped Paschall in the three-point shooting department, but if he were to become a decent jump-shooter at the NBA level, there was a need for him to re-work his shot. If there was any indication of a re-worked shot, it wasn’t apparent during the first six games.
But against the Blazers last night, Paschall’s jumper finally broke out of its restrictive dam, flowing out like a rapidly-flowing river and playing a tremendous part in plunging Portland into deep water.
This first three from Paschall had some subtle differences from that of his jumper during his collegiate career:
There is noticeably less of a leg bend in mid-air, with his legs and feet having relatively less movement, which may have aided in his shot being less flat and having more arc.
While this subtle change in mechanics is promising and encouraging to observe, Paschall still had to prove that it was going to be consistent. One can revert back to previous habits all too easily, and Paschall is certainly as vulnerable as anyone else who has tried to suddenly change something they have been used to for most of their career.
However, full credit must be given to Paschall. He managed to stay consistent with his mechanics against the Blazers, as evidenced by his 4-of-6 clip from beyond the arc.
There isn’t necessarily a need for Paschall to be a 40-plus percent three-point shooter, but if he can keep defenses honest with a jumper that goes in at an average to above-average rate, it’ll only open up so many possibilities for the rookie as well as benefit his teammates on the court.
While Paschall is relatively undersized for a power forward, he compensates by using his natural athleticism and strength. While only being approximately 6’7” in shoes, Paschall has a 7-foot wingspan, which enables him to play well above his height. His large frame — already at an NBA-ready state — allows him to bang down low and be physical, boxing out taller opponents and allowing him to haul in rebounds consistently.
It also helps that he has a nose for the ball and a knack for being at the right place at the right time, such as during this sequence, where he makes a beeline toward the rim and gets the offensive board:
During this sequence, where Paschall positions himself under the rim and out-jumps everyone else for the putback tip:
And also during this sequence, where he gets another offensive rebound and goes back up for the slam:
Paschall’s physicality also serves him well on drives and forays into the paint, where he uses his strength to power through smaller players as well as allowing him to finish among the tall trees.
In the clip above, Paschall acts as the roll man in the pick-and-roll. He allows himself to be open for Alec Burks’ pocket pass, and he shows no fear in being physical with Skal Labissière, who fouls Paschall for the three-point play.
Not long after, Paschall manages to get another three-point play using his strength and physicality.
Paschall shows great patience in attacking the closeout, and upon getting close to the rim, he goes up strong and does not give up any sort of ground. As a result, he draws another foul in the midst of an incredible display of upper-body strength.
There is no doubt that Paschall’s strength and frame that were cultivated during his four years at Villanova played a huge part in this breakout game. Save for Willie Cauley-Stein, Marquese Chriss, and Omari Spellman, the Warriors are sorely lacking in paint physicality. While not being as tall as those three, Paschall’s ability to play bigger and taller than expected played a huge part in the win against the Blazers.
If he can continue to show the same kind of domineering physicality against other teams, then the Warriors might very well have their next budding star on their hands.
According to Synergy Sports’ scouting report, this is what was said of Paschall’s defense going into the draft:
“Very capable, intense defender. Gets low and works hard giving him some versatility even if he isn’t overly quick on the perimeter or imposing as a rim protector. Communicates well and has strong fundamentals.”
The projection above of Paschall’s defense proved to be mostly true against the Blazers, and two notable defensive sequences serve as evidence.
The first sequence came during the third quarter, where Paschall was matched against CJ McCollum in isolation.
Paschall displays his excellent ability to move his feet and not allowing McCollum to blow past him. Paschall traps McCollum against the baseline, forcing him to give up possession of the ball and eventually leading to a missed shot from another Blazer.
The second sequence came during the fourth quarter, with the Warriors holding on to a 12-point lead. Damian Lillard tries to take over and manages to get the step on Ky Bowman.
But Paschal rotates from the weak side and is there to stuff Lillard. Paschal shows great body control by going straight up. Even when Lillard manages to avoid contact, Paschall tracks down the ball with his hand and manages to swat down on the shot cleanly, a key defensive stop that prevented the Blazers superstar from cutting down on the Warriors’ double-digit lead.
Paschall has the physical tools to be an excellent defender and a strong, bully-ball type of scorer, as well as possessing a jump shot that will enable him to knock down shots at a respectable rate. But most importantly, he seems to already have a mature mindset, one that allows him to approach games with a calm and measured approach.
“I knew I had to get a few jumpers,” Paschall said after the game. “I felt like that opened up stuff for me. ... I feel like I’m a complete basketball player. Most of my life I’ve been a scorer, but of course, with different levels of basketball you got to adjust your game accordingly.
“You got to feel like you’re the best player out there to play this game. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out in the NBA. If you’re not that aggressive, you’re gonna get eaten alive. There’s some real killers out there.”
Eric Paschall: “You got to feel like you’re the best player out there. It’s a dog eat dog world. If you’re not aggressive, you gonna get eat alive. There are some killers out there.” pic.twitter.com/Y4kceT9PPq— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 5, 2019
Compared to most rookies, Paschall is as close to being a finished product as there is, while at the same time being someone who has immense potential that can and should be cultivated by the Warriors. We have all witnessed what Paschal is capable of at the ground level — and based on how he has performed over the past couple of games, the sky’s the only limit for him.
Seven down, 75 more to go.
Stay Golden, Dub Nation.