SAN FRANCISCO -- Entering their first season in San Francisco in nearly five decades, the Warriors knew their growth would come from the youth on their revamped roster.
With three draft picks, general manager Bob Myers bet on shooting in Jordan Poole, grit in Eric Paschal and promise in Alen Smailagic. In an otherwise listless 123-101 loss to the Lakers, Paschall and Poole gave a glimpse of what could be.
"I thought they both played well," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "I thought they showed their skills and ability."
Poole showed flashes, scoring eight of his 17 points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer. Despite just a week of training camp, he seemed to have a grasp on Golden State's motion offense. Midway through the second quarter, he received a cross-court pass from Stephen Curry, pump-faked and made a fadeaway jumper in front of the Warriors bench. A minute later, he ran the fastbreak alongside Draymond Green and finished the sequence with a 3-point shot.
Meanwhile, Paschall played solid, finishing with 11 points and three rebounds on 3-of-7 shooting from the field. Prior to the game, Kerr praised Paschall's ability to guard multiple positions. By the end of the night, his defensive assignments ranged from Lakers forward LeBron James to big man Anthony Davis.
"Eric really stands out physically out there," Kerr said. "He's a strong and physical kid and he's not afraid and he could play multiple spots defensively, so I thought both of them were good."
Six months ago, Paschall was competing for a third straight Final Four appearance with Villanova, playing against zone defenses and the structure of college basketball. Early in the second quarter Saturday night, James took a pass at half court, dribbled three times and barreled into Paschall's chest for an easy layup, emphasizing the rookie's steep learning curve.
"It's kind of crazy," Paschall said. "You get told to go in the game and the first person you're guarding is Anthony Davis. It was cool to able to go out there and get some minutes and try to show that I want to play during the season."
While Paschal was learning rookie lessons, Poole was looking to become the team's third scoring option. By the end of the night, he tied for the team lead in attempts, listening to the urges of his veteran teammates.
"When you have [D'Angelo Russell] and Steph [Curry] and Draymond [Green], Klay [Thompson], Jacob [Evans III], everybody telling you to shoot the ball, that you're here because you can score. Shoot," Poole said. "I think it's simple. Obviously, take smart ones, but if you're open, don't hesitate."
Over the summer, Poole and Paschall have become inseparable. Prior to games, they work out on the floor at the same time. Last month, they hosted a basketball camp at Chabot College, taking turns blocking the shots of campers. Following the loss Saturday night, they wandered to the weight room that adjoins Golden State's locker room for an hourlong workout as tunes played off Poole's iPhone.
With the Warriors' future uncertain, Golden State's young core will be counted upon to make an impression early. As the season progresses, Poole and Paschall will go through a baptism by fire, something their veteran teammate Curry knows well.
"You try to keep a straight face, but it's okay to have that kind of big-eyed moment where you're proud of yourself for making it to that point and you're amazed by what you see out on the floor," Curry said. "But at the end of the day, you want to compete and prove yourself and every rookie has to go through that."