Warriors coach Steve Kerr recently compared second-year pro Eric Paschall to another NBA player, one who didn’t find a place in the league until after he had turned 27 and didn’t become a force until he was 32.
P.J. Tucker spent five years playing pro basketball in eight different countries before becoming a blue-collar cult figure with the Houston Rockets.
Paschall, by contrast, earned NBA accolades after one season, named this month to the All-Rookie first team.
Yet in response to the comparison made by his coach, Paschall, whose mind often drifts toward music, practically began nodding to the beat of the words.
“That's a compliment, to be honest,” Paschall said Saturday, after the Warriors worked out on the practice floor at Chase Center. “P.J. Tucker is a great player. He does a lot for that Houston Rockets team that people don't notice, that's not in the box score. So, I feel like that’s a huge complement, and I'll definitely work toward that.”
In an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area this month, Kerr described Paschall as “more explosive than P.J.” but can benefit from adding a few veteran tricks while improving his defense and developing his 3-point shot -- the assets Tucker, 35, added during his journey.
“He's great defender, his 3-point shot is good from the corner,” Paschall said of Tucker. “If I can become that, I'm not complaining at all. He’s definitely a great player to look at up to in terms of the way he plays and what he does on that floor.”
Paschall, 23, averaged 14.0 points per game as a rookie but shot only 28.7 percent from deep. He shot 55 percent inside the arc. The coaching staff has stressed upon him the importance of a respectable 3-ball -- particularly from the corners -- and its impact on playing time.
Tucker, a fixture in the Houston lineup, is shooting 39.2 percent on corner 3-pointers in three seasons with the Rockets. The Warriors would take anything above 35 percent from Paschall, who over recent months has prioritized that shot.
“Just getting reps up, to be honest,” he said. “That’s something that helps a shooter, getting the reps up, getting comfortable changing your shot. It’s not going to get perfect overnight, so you just constantly have to work on it, mentally and physically.”
Paschall said he is adjusting his mechanics, taking some of the lift out of his jump and making it more of set shot. That would quicken his release and reduce the need for perfect balance.
“I’m definitely just getting more comfortable with that,” he said. “Just being happy with that, and I hope it gets better. And I feel like it has, so I hope it translates games.”
The Warriors are at least four months away from actual games, based on the league’s latest projection. That’s plenty of time for Paschall to work on his shot, work on his defense, work on becoming Tucker 2.0.
Meanwhile, Paschall can always admire another trait often attributed to Tucker. He is known to be among the league’s most devoted sneakerheads, with almost 1,000 pairs.
“He's probably one of the people that look up to in terms of shoe collection, to be honest,” said Paschall, who recently decided to post his shoe collection on Instagram. “He has a lot of heat.”