Following a four-year college career, Paschall — though listed at 6-foot-7 — impressed with his athleticism, defensive prowess and basketball IQ. Only one question remained: Would he fall to the 41st overall pick?
“We were kind of holding our breath,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted Sunday. “Hoping for him to fall, and it happened. We’re lucky to have him.”
As the Warriors get through training camp, Paschall is beginning to make good on Golden State’s trust. Through two preseason games, he’s averaging 11 points and three rebounds in 22 minutes. More importantly, with big men Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley Stein injured, Paschall has been tasked to guard multiple positions on defense, often the opponent’s best player, and impressed the staff along the way.
“Really excited about Eric,” Kerr said. “The strength, the explosiveness. He may be undersized from a height standpoint, but he’s got long arms, so he makes up for some of that. To me, he fits right in, maybe even stands out on an NBA floor athletically from a strength and explosion standpoint.”
Six months ago, Paschall — who signed a three-year, fully guaranteed $4.2 million deal, in July — was competing for a third straight Final Four appearance with Villanova, playing against zone defenses and the structure of college basketball. When he entered his first preseason game last Saturday, Kerr tasked him to guard All-NBA big man Anthony Davis.
In the second quarter of last week’s Warriors loss to the Lakers, LeBron James took a pass at half court, dribbled three times and barreled into Paschall’s chest for an easy layup, emphasizing the rookie’s steep learning curve.
“It’s kind of weird because you see these guys, AD is on the cover of [NBA 2K] and my first game I have to guard him,” Paschall said. “It’s kind of crazy, but I’m glad Coach trusts me enough to go out and guard those guys.”
An adjustment has manifested off the court as well for Paschall. Long a resident of the East Coast, he wasn’t much of a driver and still doesn’t have a license, despite being 22 years old. Following practice Sunday afternoon, Paschall stood outside Chase Center with a bag packed for a week-long trip, waiting for fellow rookie Jordan Poole to take him to San Francisco International Airport for the team’s trip to Los Angeles.
While Paschall has impressed thus far, his NBA dreams weren’t always a sure thing. Despite averaging 26.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as a junior at Dobbs Ferry High School (NY), Paschall only garnered interests from mid-major schools like Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason and Providence before enrolling at nearby Fordham. After transferring to Villanova following a coaching change, Paschall won a national title in 2018, but he was just a second-round pick in June’s NBA draft.
“My whole life, I’ve been underrated,” Paschall told NBC Sports Bay Area. “To be able to be here is a blessing in itself.”
Entering the season, Paschall comes to an organization in transition. Three months removed from Kevin Durant‘s departure, coupled with the Klay Thompson‘s knee injury, the Warriors are left to navigate the start of the season with eight new additions. Nonetheless, the team has established stars like Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, who have defined roles.
As his tenure progresses, Paschall hopes to be added to the Golden State’s lineup of stars.
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“Eventually, I feel like I can come into my own at this level,” Paschall said. “But now, especially as a rookie, you just have to do what they say and do what you got to do to stay on the court, but I feel like eventually in this league, I’ll be able to play my game, and I hope it’s with the Warriors.”
“I feel like I ended up being in a great spot,” Paschall added. “They gave me a great contract, and I feel like in these next few years, I feel like I can contribute, to try to do what I can to just bring whatever they want me to bring to the table.”
Eric Paschall fitting in with Warriors, making good early impression originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area