It was just a year ago that Warriors forward Eric Paschall had an All-Rookie First-Team season.
But looking at the Warriors' roster construct, it feels like it has been longer. Not necessarily because Paschall had a bad second year, but, because through the final stretch of the regular season, his role with the team diminished.
It was in part because of a hip flexor injury that held him out for 21 games. And by the time he got back, Juan Toscano-Anderson had taken his spot in the rotation
Paschall and Toscano-Anderson are not the same player. Paschall is used as a small-ball five, where Toscano-Anderson is more of a typical power forward. But, Toscano-Anderson proved he can also play the center position, and if he continues to check similar boxes that Paschall does, the Villanova product's role moving forward is murky, at best.
And the Warriors know it.
"Steve [Kerr] had him at the five, and then it became a glut there. And so trying to figure out how he could play the four was a challenge. And I think Steve would acknowledge that," general manager Bob Myers recently said on 95.7 The Game's "The Morning Roast" show. "So for Eric, it's about figuring out what Steve wants from him [and] what he can bring consistently. But it was so scattered -- whether it was James [Wiseman] coming or going in the second unit ... so it's a hard one. There's not an easy answer for it."
Paschall's ability to score in 1-on-1 situations is the best area of his game. He can also defend multiple positions. But, in order for him to be less of a situational player, i.e. only a center when the Warriors want to go small, he must work on expanding his shooting spots.
His 3-point shooting percentage already saw an upward tick, averaging 33.3 percent from distance (compared to 28.7 percent his rookie year).
Paschall averaged 9.5 points on 49.1 percent field goal shooting, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists from Dec. 22 to April 2 -- his last game before his injury. The numbers don't jump off the page, but they do reflect what the Warriors need from him -- just a solid 10 or so points a night. And what doesn't show up on the stat sheet is his ability to create off the dribble and bring another energy boost.
If Paschall can become a guy who can also play power forward, and perhaps even small forward, his chances of cracking the rotation and having a clear-cut role is much better. Yes, the Warriors will still play a small-ball lineup here and there next year, but as their options of who can play the small center increase -- such as Toscano-Anderson and Draymond Green -- Paschall's importance lessens.
And, as he enters the final year of his rookie contract, it becomes even more imperative for Paschall to develop this offseason and make his presence felt with the team next year. It's not clear how.