Villanova Wildcats: Eric Paschall gifts Golden State a birthday win

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

On his 23rd birthday, ex-Villanova Wildcats forward Eric Paschall dropped 34-points on the Portland Trail Blazers in the Golden State Warriors’ first win at Chase Center.

The 2019-20 Golden State Warriors are bad.

After a streak of dominance that felt like an eternity for fans outside of the Bay Area, Steve Kerr‘s squad entered their Monday night contest against the recently humbled Portland Trail Blazers with a 1-5 record – with all four of those losses coming on the brand new floors of the $1.4 billion Chase Center.

But this wasn’t the Warriors of yore (or 2017).

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Kevin Durant? Gone. Steph Curry? Hurt. Klay Thompson? Out for the year.

At this point, the current iteration of Golden State is nothing more than Old Man Dray, a wildly inconsistent D’Angelo Russell, and a collection of unproven players from all over the professional basketball landscape.

However, at least over the last two games, the former Philadelphia Warriors have found a surprising bright spot hailing from their former home: Villanova Wildcats alum Eric Paschall.

A two-year starter under Jay Wright – and a one-year starter at New York’s Fordham University in 2014-15 – Paschall joined the Warriors as the 41st overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft – in a move that re-paired him up with college teammate Omari Spellman.

Viewed as a potential reserve piece with the size and versatility to play either forward position in a pinch, Paschall’s rookie season appeared destined to go down as one focused on learning pro game and developing his chops split between garbage time minutes with the big club and stints spent with the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Spoiler alert: That didn’t happen.

In a regular trial by fire fueled by the ever-flowing drip of bad basketball, Paschall has averaged a team-high 33 minutes of action a night in the four games since Curry broke his hand – averaging an also team-high 21 points of action over an albeit limited sample size.

But unsurprisingly for fans in Philly, Paschall saved his best for last.

In a game held on his 23rd birthday, Paschall secured the Warriors their first win of the season at the Chase Center with a transcendent 34 and 13 double-double – his first double-double since March 14th all the way back in the Wildcats’ Big East semifinals win over the Providence Friars.

Furthermore, despite struggling to acclimate his outside game to the NBA’s extended 3 point line – missing all eight of his first shots from beyond the arc over his first six professional games – Paschall seemingly left those troubles at 22. With a green light to shoot at will, Paschall bombed it from range, banking 4-6 from 3 to go with seven more buckets from the field.

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Who knows, with Durant gone and Thompson on the mend, maybe Eric Paschall saw an opening to become the next Splash Brother and ran with it? Whatever the case may be, the birthday boy certainly showed out on the first day of his Jordan Year and made Villanova Wildcats fans the world over proud – a huge accomplishment regardless of where the Golden State Warriors land in the 2020 draft lottery.