Eric Paschall

Warriors can find these silver linings from lost 2019-20 NBA season

Warriors can find these silver linings from lost 2019-20 NBA season

Ever since the ninth day of the season, when they were informed that Steph Curry would miss at least three months, the Warriors have had one request of the 2019-20 season.

End it.

Kevin Durant had departed for the Brooklyn Nets. Klay Thompson was in the early stages of a nine-month rehabilitation and, then, Curry was out for medical reasons. With 78 games remaining.

Management and coaches immediately knew what was coming, that their hope for a bridge year -- with no realistic chance to win it all but the possibility of tested veterans Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and Curry introducing the playoffs to a gang of new faces -- would instead be a dreaded gap year.

The Warriors on Thursday finally got the wish they’ve been so reluctant to share since the NBA was shut down on March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The league announced that Golden State’s season of aches, injuries, rehabs and despair is over.

The Warriors will not be among the 22 teams to go active when games resume July 31. The schedule is limited to teams sitting on a playoff berth or still with a chance of getting in. The Warriors were eliminated in their final game before the hiatus, a 131-107 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Chase Center, that left them with a 15-50 record that they truly earned.

“So,” general manager Bob Myers cracked to NBC Sports Bay Area recently, “I guess we got to see we’re not very good without Steph and Klay.”

Yet those 65 games provided Myers and his lieutenants in the front office a large sample size to evaluate the roster and devise a personnel plan. The Warriors know they need more size, better interior defense and, of course, more shooting.

It gave the expanded, 10-man coaching staff plenty of opportunities to teach and also learn. Indeed, for the first time since Steve Kerr’s initial season in 2014-15, the focus was on schemes and tutorials. Draymond was forced to become something of a player-coach, which he said raised his level of patience.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

It was exceedingly valuable for rookies Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole to get far more playing time than they would have under normal conditions. Paschall was needed and he shuttled between both forward spots without embarrassing himself. Poole had enough time to lose his shot and realize what it would take to rediscover it.

Players like Poole and Paschall, as well as Andrew Wiggins and Marquese Chriss, who are expected to be in the rotation next season got a chance to soak in the culture and spoke highly of it.

“No matter what your record is, there's so many ways to steal the joy from a team,” Myers said. “There's ways to kind of make it feel a lot harder than it should. Steve does a great job of keeping things in perspective, keeping it light but also competitive.”

[RELATED: Steph took noteworthy knee in protesting police brutality]

The most important thing the Warriors can take from this season, though, is the mental and physical intermission afforded their three stars. That cannot be overstated.

Coming off five consecutive runs to The Finals, Curry, Green and Thompson never got much of a break. All three, even with Klay coming off an ACL tear, should be refreshed when the next season starts, probably in December. Given the tremendous energy Draymond must expend to be at his most effective, he probably needed more recovery than he is willing to admit.

The unspoken but prevailing sentiment beneath Warriors ownership was that the NBA would be wasting of a couple weeks on a team going nowhere.

The Warriors, knowing there was minimal chance they would return to finish the season, already had begun shifting toward 2020-21. Now, they can bury the season they want to forget and go full speed toward what they have reason to believe will be better days.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from disappointing 2019-20 season

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from disappointing 2019-20 season

The Warriors' season is over, as they will not be among the 22 teams who will resume the 2019-20 campaign in Orlando.

Over the coming weeks and months, all the attention from a Golden State perspective will be on the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency.

But before we completely turn the page, let's look back at the season that was. Despite the Warriors finishing with the worst record in the league (15-50), it wasn't all bad.

Stocked up on draft assets

In the sign-and-trade transaction that brought D'Angelo Russell to the Bay Area, the Warriors sent the Brooklyn Nets their 2020 first-round draft pick. But the selection was top-20 protected, so the Warriors will keep the pick after finishing with the worst record (15-50) in the league (Golden State will send Brooklyn its 2025 second-rounder instead).

When the Warriors traded D-Lo to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, they also acquired Minnesota's 2021 first-round pick (top-three protected) and 2021 second-round pick.

By obtaining these very valuable draft picks, Golden State's front office now has the flexibility to possibly trade for a superstar or star player. And if a deal doesn't materialize, the team gets to draft some prospects they hope can turn into star-level players in a Warriors uniform.

Golden State also acquired the Utah Jazz's 2020 second-rounder in the Willie Cauley-Stein trade, and three second-rounders in the deal that sent Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The cupboard was pretty empty and now it's quite full.

Paschall packs punch

On the morning of the 2019 NBA Draft, the Warriors acquired the No. 41 overall pick from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for $1.3 million and a 2024 second-round selection.

Golden State selected Eric Paschall, who went on to average 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists over 60 games (26 starts), while shooting nearly 50 percent overall.

The 23-year-old grew as a playmaker as well, averaging 6.0 assists over the last six games of the season.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr summed it up best in mid-March.

"Eric Paschall looks like a guy -- because of his physical strength, his power, his confidence obviously -- we could throw into a playoff game right now and he would hold his own," he told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. "That's one of the ways that we kind of look at players and look at the league. When you watch the two best teams in the league play in a regular season game or when you watch any playoff game -- can this player on our roster be out there? The answer with Eric for sure is a resounding yes. And that's exciting.

"To be able to get a guy like that in the second round -- and watch him grow and develop -- that alone makes this a successful season."

Paschall needs to work on his 3-point shot and he will have to adjust his game somewhat because he won't have as many opportunities offensively when the Warriors are fully healthy again. 

But he proved he belongs and should be a very solid rotation player in the NBA for years to come.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Beware of a motivated Draymond Green

Draymond Green did not have fun during the 2019-20 season. He missed 22 games with various ailments, yet he picked up a league-high 14 technical fouls.

"To everybody out there who want to talk s--t about this year -- I don't really give a f--k," he said in mid-April on the "All the Smoke" podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. "In my opinion, I got better. I got better as a player, I got better as a person and a leader ... and that's gonna make me even better for next year.

"So, I appreciate everybody talking. I kind of needed them to relight that fire under my a--."

The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year didn't bring the fire on a nightly basis because the games didn't have much significance. Everybody knew very early on that the Warriors weren't going to the playoffs, and it put Draymond in a strange position.

The three-time NBA champion -- whose four-year, $99.7 million contract extension begins in 2020-21 -- is highly motivated to get the Dubs back into title contention. And in the process, he wants to resume his place in the league's hierarchy.

"It's honestly been dope as hell these last two All-Stars to go on vacation with my kids and my fiancée," he said. "But I got that itch again. I got to three straight, and I'm like, 'Yeah, all right. I knew I could do it.'

"I kind of lost that itch. ... I got that itch again. I want to get back there."

You got to love and respect how Draymond made these statements, as he knows he needs to make good on them and deliver.

A needed physical and mental break

During their run to five straight NBA Finals appearances, the Warriors took the floor for 105 playoff games. That's a crazy amount of additional basketball and it takes a toll on you.

If we assume the 2020-21 season starts around Christmas Day, Klay Thompson -- who tore his left ACL during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13 -- will go over 18 months between games.

Steph Curry broke his left hand Oct. 30 and appeared just in five games this season.

[RELATED: Watch Steph and Klay's 10 most clutch shots with Warriors]

The "Splash Brothers" should be very fresh after long layoffs. Combine that with a burning desire to get back to the NBA Finals ... and it should mean trouble for the rest of the NBA.

"It just kills me inside when I see these other teams, so many talking heads and some of my peers saying, 'The dynasty is over, they had a great run,'" Klay said in "Above The Water," a short documentary chronicling his rehab. "I'll just be that eager to prove everyone wrong again."

Next season can't get here soon enough.

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Warriors' 2019-20 season over with NBA's return-to-play plan approved

Warriors' 2019-20 season over with NBA's return-to-play plan approved

The Warriors have become accustomed to their season ending in June, but not quite like this.

The NBA's Board of Governors approved commissioner Adam Silver's return-to-play plan Thursday, and 22 teams will participate in the resumption of the season at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

A disappointing season for the Warriors, which was paused on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, officially comes an end with a league-worst 15-50 record.

With Kevin Durant gone and Klay Thompson out for the season due to a torn ACL, the Warriors were hoping Steph Curry, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell could lead the franchise back to the NBA playoffs for an eighth straight year.

But Curry suffered a broken left hand in the fourth game of the season, and the Warriors went into a tailspin. By the time the calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020, the Warriors were 9-26.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

While Russell averaged a career-high 23.6 points in 33 games for the Warriors, it became clear that he wasn't a fit in coach Steve Kerr's system. So at the NBA trade deadline in February, general manager Bob Myers traded the All-Star point guard, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 first-round draft pick and a 2021 second-round draft pick.

After appearing in five straight NBA Finals and winning three NBA championships with a veteran-laden roster, Kerr was running several rookies out on a nightly basis.

One of the few bright spots for the Warriors this season was the emergence of 2019 second-round draft pick Eric Paschall. The No. 41 overall pick averaged 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 60 games.

[RELATED: Curry, Warriors hungry for next season]

Now that their season is over, the Warriors can officially turn their attention to the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency in the offseason. Golden State is expected to have a top-5 draft pick, and we'll find out shortly after the season whether they plan to keep the pick or trade it for an established NBA star.

NBA teams are used to four to six months off between seasons, but the Warriors will go nine months between games, with the 2020-21 season expected to start in December.