The Golden State Warriors have had as bad of a followup season to five years of NBA Finals appearances as one could imagine. They aren’t just losing; they’re getting blown out on a nightly basis.
Gone are the days of a deep team that could beat anyone regardless of injuries, and in are the days of lottery predictions and endless losing streaks. There has, however, been one bright side to the season, and Draymond Green recently discussed it.
The Golden State Warriors’ season
In many ways, the team’s woes started in the finals when Kevin Durant went down with his Achilles’ tendon tear before booking it to the Brooklyn Nets. Klay Thompson tore his ACL soon after. The Warriors lost the series.
After trying to add insurance through All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell and former lottery pick Willie Cauley-Stein, things only got worse when the season began. Green, himself, is struggling with a bigger role that doesn’t necessarily feed his skillset.
After only four games — mostly blowout losses — superstar Steph Curry went down with a broken hand that will keep him out months, if not longer. The team has been unable to make up for this, holding a 5-19 record through their first 24 games.
Russell has tried to step up, putting 22 points per game. Glenn Robinson and Alec Burks have done their best to compete. And Cauley-Stein has been disappointing. However, there’s been one diamond in the rough who’s becoming a Cinderella story in the young NBA season.
Eric Paschall’s rise
Eric Paschall was the 41st pick in the 2019 draft. As a second pick, he wasn’t necessarily presumed to be on the Warriors roster, let alone a focal point. Despite this, Paschall proves he was a hidden gem of the draft. While his role may be bigger due to the Warriors’ many injuries, he’s shown that he is a legitimate NBA talent.
Through 23 games, Paschall has put up 17 points per game. The forward is shooting 50% from the field, 30% from downtown, and 81% from the free-throw line. He also grabs five rebounds and nearly two assists per game.
Although Paschall gets most of his scoring done from down low, he’s shown he can stretch the floor and adapt to the team when they are presumably healthy in the future. The 23-year-old proves that being a second-round pick does not mean a player has to wait to contribute. The opportunity can come at any time, and a player must be ready.
Paschall is now a favorite for Rookie of the Year alongside bigger names like Ja Morant. If you ask his teammate, he’ll only get better.
Draymond Green’s words
Green spoke highly of Paschall, acknowledged that he has room to grow as a player. The young athlete’s best days in the NBA could still be years away. Green discussed this with The Athletic.
“Right now, he’s just scoring off raw talent,” Green said. “He really don’t know how to play the NBA game. As he figures out more and more the NBA game, how to get fouled, he’ll get better and better.” It’s a view reflected by coach Steve Kerr, reports Warriors Wire, who sees him as a valuable piece for years to come.
“He’s got the speed and quickness to stay in front of a guard and obviously the strength and size to stay with a big guy down low,” Kerr said. “We feel like he can be maybe even a little like P.J. Tucker. That’d be a good comp for him.”
If Paschall can keep growing and learning from his teammates, the Warriors may have something to hang their hats on when the team is healthy again.