Draymond Green was nowhere to be found. And yet, there was a version of his body. There was the best version of his attacking offensive game.
And there was the flex.
On a night that largely was marked by loss — of a season hitting an early bottom by starting three rookies, of an era being gone until it is found again, of a home game to an underwhelming Hornets team — the team may have found something, too, in Eric Paschall.
Willie Cauley-Stein was the veteran underneath and Glenn Robinson III brings five-plus years of NBA experience, but it was the second-round pick who carried the Warriors until he couldn’t anymore.
Paschall, who will turn 23 this week, became the focal point of an offense that did not have Stephen Curry, Green or D’Angelo Russell to lean on. Cauley-Stein, even when fully healthy and in game shape, is not an offensive difference-maker, and neither is Robinson. Jordan Poole and Ky Bowman rounded out the starting five, a stunning look for a team barely removed from a dynasty.
Someone had to step up. Immediately, it was the Villanova product.
“Early on I felt aggressive,” said Paschall, who bruised his way to 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting with four rebounds and two assists. “They felt I had a mismatch, so I just took advantage of it, and [my teammates] allowed me to play my game. So I just got to thank my teammates for that, for believing in me that much, especially as a rookie.
“… I got dudes that have been in the league for a while that are giving me the ball and saying, ‘Go, go attack.'”
There was no one on Charlotte who could consistently stop the 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward. A bit undersized but already as strong as anyone — the Green comparisons flow easily — routinely bulldozed past Miles Bridges and could shoot over PJ Washington.
In two instances, he paid tribute to Green and flaunted his muscles after lowering his shoulder, getting to the hoop and finishing strong.
Eric Paschall just hit 'em with the Draymond flex 💪💪 pic.twitter.com/UoFZGRYCQ1
— KNBR (@KNBR) November 3, 2019
For a Warriors offense that tired out late in their 97-83 loss at Chase Center on Saturday, Paschall became a glimmer of a bright spot, a piece who has the potential to be a find for Golden State when it again has its superstars.
Paschall “can put the ball on the floor and bull past people, and tonight he showed he can knock down a jump shot,” Steve Kerr said after the Warriors coughed up a five-point halftime lead and three-point leading going into the fourth. “He’s very confident already, and he’s doing a hell of a job.”
Paschall couldn’t do enough in the fourth, when he entered play at 8:05 and went 2-for-5 with two missed 3s and five points. Charlotte shot better down the stretch and got the loose balls that mattered.
Still, it’s the type of effort that becomes a lesson, even if it’s a hard-learned one. These games will help.
“I feel like it helped me just to get the reps in the game,” said Paschall, whose previous career high was 20 points and also set a career high with 35 minutes played. “I feel like even coming into the draft, I was a player that could play a decent amount of minutes. I’m not saying major, but I felt like I could have played 20 minutes a game as a rookie. Just being able to play 35, it just gets you the reps.”