Warriors: Eric Paschall was the biggest surprise of the 2019-20 season

Warriors, Eric Paschall (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Warriors, Eric Paschall (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

It wasn’t a season to remember for the 2019-20 Golden State Warriors, but the emergence of rookie Eric Paschall provided a pleasant surprise for the team and a possible future building block.

As the great novel Of Mice and Men says, “Sometimes, the best-laid plans of mice and men can go awry.” Yes, plans can even go awry for some of sports’ all-time great dynasties. For the 2019-20 Golden State Warriors, this past season was no exception.

Losing Kevin Durant in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to a torn Achilles, followed by his departure to Brooklyn in the offseason, it was the beginning of a series of ill-timed fallen dominoes for the team.

Shooting guard Klay Thompson left Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals with a torn ACL and proceeded to miss last season.

Adding literal injury to insult, the team lost franchise player Stephen Curry to a broken hand that kept him out for multiple months, though he would make his 2019-20 season debut playing in five games, averaging 20.8 points per game in those contests.

The team finished the suspended season with an uncharacteristic 15-50 record, but some bright spots did emerge for Steve Kerr’s boys along the way. One name that stood out in particular — power forward Eric Paschall.

The rookie out of Villanova, taken by the Warriors with the 11th pick of the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft, shouldered a substantial workload in the wake of ravaging injuries and transition from the mid-decade dynasty.

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Not expected to be much more than depth initially, the Tarrytown, New York native delivered in a big way for the team, even if his play only resulted in the team reaching 15 wins. How can you blame him though, when he had an unusually poor supporting cast around him?

Winning a national championship with Villanova in 2018, Paschall seemed to fit the championship mold of players being developed by Kerr’s Warriors, bringing along the big game experience and winning mentality that have defined Golden State’s recent successes.

In 60 games played this season, the rookie power forward averaged 14 points per game, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He knocked down nearly half of his shots from the field (49.7% field goal percentage) as well as 77 percent of his free throws.

Paschall did not shoot from three exceptionally well, however, managing a meager 28.7 percent three-point shooting percentage. Then again, who can truly replace the factory-like production of threes from the Splash Bros?

One stat that stands out when evaluating Eric Paschall’s surprising 2019-20 season was his Player Efficiency Rating, or PER.  Given the fact the Warriors were putrid on the court this season, they didn’t have many players with more than a 15 PER, the number which is considered league average.

Though Paschall’s PER came in at 14.5, just slightly below league average, it should be noted that the only other player on the roster with a higher PER was fellow big man Marquese Chriss who was also a bright spot for the young Warriors in 2019-20, with a 19.4.

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For the sake of this exercise, we won’t count D’Angelo Russell or Andrew Wiggins, who despite both having PERs above 15, did not spend the entire season with the Warriors.

Paschall was measured to be more efficient than even veteran players like power forward/small forward Draymond Green, who clocked in with a 12.6 PER over 43 games or Dragan Bender‘s 11.0.

Another stat that illustrates Paschall’s value to the team was his WS, or win shares, of 2.1. Similar to WAR in baseball, WS in basketball is an estimate of the number of wins a player is worth to a team.

The rookie’s figure was second highest on the Warriors out of all the players who remained on the roster the entire season.

Paschall’s health and production relative to his draft status and the state of the team’s roster during the season certainly speaks volumes about the potential he has to contribute going forward.

Not to mention, he’s just 23-years-old, meaning there could also be plenty of untapped potential left in the tank as well. In Eric Paschall, the Warriors not only received a very pleasant surprise, but perhaps a future building block.

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If he keeps producing and improving, it would be difficult for the organization to think otherwise.