The Warriors drafted Stephen Curry. They drafted Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes too. Before that there was Jason Richardson, Monta Ellis and Gilbert Arenas.
Yet as rookies, none of those players ever had the game that Eric Paschall had on his 23rd birthday Monday night.
You have to go back to Chris Webber in 1994 to find a first-year player that put up at least Paschall’s line of 34 points and 13 rebounds in the 127-118 win over the Blazers. Webber dropped 36 and 13 on January 4 of that year.
Initially it was thought that Paschall matched that scoring mark, but he admitted it was a mistake.
“They actually got the stat sheet wrong I had 34. They gave me Damian Lee’s last two free throws,” he said with a smile. “Still looks good.”
The Warriors drafted Paschall 41st overall out of Villanova in June. A stellar all-around player considered a tweener due to his 6′ 6″, 255 lbs frame, Paschall almost immediately garnered comparisons to Draymond Green, comparison’s that only intensified during Paschall’s impressive preseason.
But while he’s nowhere close to the defensive player Draymond Green is, and few will ever be, Paschall showed he is already more polished in a number of areas offensively than the Warriors’ star forward.
Paschall scored in every way possible on Monday. After not hitting a single 3-pointer through his first six NBA games, Paschall came out firing, drilling his first three, and finishing 4-for-6. Paschall was a decent 3-point shooter in college, shooting around 35 percent in his final two seasons.
“I just knew I hadn’t hit any, so defenses are going to give it to me,” Paschall said. “I have confidence in myself to make the 3-point shot so I took them. They started dropping early and I continued to have the hot hand all night.”
Paschall also forced his way inside, using his surprisingly solid handle and quick first step to get by slower defenders, earning four trips to the free throw line, where he went 8-for-8. In crunch time the Warriors went to Paschall as an isolation scorer (who would’ve ever thought you’d be reading that sentence this season) on one end, while relying on him as a small-ball defensive center on the other.
“I feel like I’m a complete basketball player,” Paschall said. “I can score. Most of my life I’ve been a scorer, but of course at different levels of basketball you’ve got to adjust your game accordingly. Through college I was a defender, senior year I became more of a scorer but I feel like I’ve been scoring my whole life.
“There’s not a lot of times a rookie gets to play 40 minutes against the Trail Blazers and (Damian Lillard) and C.J. McCollum. To get that opportunity you’ve just got to make the best of it.”
With only nine active players currently, Paschall, and many of his young teammates, have to play those minutes. But on Monday night Paschall looked like a player who deserved them.
He also looks like a player that might have more than a supporting role once Curry, Thompson and Green return.