Over the weekend, the Golden State Warriors saw their seven-year streak of sending players to the NBA All-Star Game come to a screeching halt. There was no Steph Curry or Kevin Durant, leading the charge of the game’s greatest players. There was no Klay Thompson or Draymond Green, smiling and laughing during the world’s grandest pickup game. There wasn’t even David Lee, who started the team’s All-Star streak back in 2013.
Devoid of All-Stars, the Warriors sent a lone representative to icy Chicago: 41st overall pick Eric Paschall, who repped the Dubs for Team USA during the Rising Stars Game, a celebration of the brightest first and second-year players in the league.
And in the absence of the team’s elite, Paschall certainly showed out.
It was an announcement of his arrival, at a certain level. The Warriors, who currently hold the worst record in the league, haven’t found themselves playing in front of a national audience very often this year (and when they have, it’s probably safe to say that the viewership numbers were low).
Not many people have gotten to watch Golden State’s NBA-ready second-round pick, even as he entered the break with averages of 13.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game.
Perhaps that didn’t change too much over the weekend, as Friday’s slate - a “celebrity” game, followed by the Rising Stars contest - isn’t exactly the Super Bowl in terms of Nielsen ratings. But it’s safe to say there were some eyes on Paschall that hadn’t landed on him many times before.
He showed up. And he showed out. Paschall finished with a team-high 23 points on 10-13 shooting, plus 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. He led Team USA to a 20-point victory, only narrowly losing out on MVP honors to Charlotte Hornets sophomore Miles Bridges.
Now, a performance in the Rising Stars Game hardly guarantees future stardom. If I could bottle and sell the optimism I held after Monta Ellis’ dunk parade of a performance more than a decade ago, I’d by writing this blog post from atop a shiny new bidet on my personal island in the Caribbean.
Still, as unknown as the future inherently is, Paschall sent a message to NBA fans. Yes, the Warriors are defined by Curry, Thompson, and Green. Yes, the future of Andrew Wiggins, as well as the state of the team’s upcoming draft picks, is more intriguing than the development of their current crop of youngsters.
But Eric Paschall is an important part of the team’s story moving forward. He made that much abundantly clear on Friday.