Philadelphia 76ers: Passing on Eric Paschall was a telling mistake

As the Philadelphia 76ers scour the trade market for a serviceable four, one has to wonder why the team didn’t add a forward like Villanova’s Eric Paschall in the 2019 NBA Draft.

When the Philadelphia 76ers signed Mike Scott to a two-year, $9.8 million deal, many assumed the team had locked up the perfect sixth man swing forward for Brett Brown‘s scheme.

And why not, right? A 6-foot-7 combo forward who averages eight points a game and can cover two-four on the wings all the while hitting over 40 percent of his 3 point attempts? That is an ideal reserve for any defense-focused team.

But as Elton Brand should know all too well, as the five-year, $82 million deal he signed with the Sixers was expunged from their books using the since-eliminated Amnesty clause, it’s not how much you make, but how well you play that matters in the NBA.

Through the first 50 games of the 2019-20 season, Scott is having one of the least efficient seasons of his professional career, averaging 5.6 points in 17.7 minutes of action on a little more than five shots a game. While his Per 36 numbers are roughly the same this season as last, excluding of course his 3 point shooting percentage (41.2 in 18-19 versus 32.9 in 19-20), Scott just isn’t getting it done like he used to and has fallen behind Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and potentially even Shake Milton in the team’s bench pecking order.

What do those players have in common? They’re all under 25.

Despite some initial bench scoring woes, the Sixers’ recent string of injuries has given some lesser-used players a chance to shine, and potentially earn roles in the rotation when it inevitably shrinks down to eight or so during the playoffs.

Really, the Sixers are a young swing power forward away from having a deceptively good playoff bench, one built around size, speed, and switchability. Man, if only the team had a chance to add such a player on a cost-effective, long-term deal; bonus points if he, I don’t know, played college ball right down the road.

Oh wait they did, and just like with every other Villanova Wildcat in the Jay Wright-era that has captured the hearts of fans in the 215, the Sixers passed on bringing him into the fray.

A three-year contributor at Villanova after transferring from Fordham in 2015, Eric Paschall steadily built up his draft stock while playing alongside future NBA players like Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart, and eventual Golden State Warriors teammate Omari Spellman, winning a national championship in the process. While he never quite vaulted himself into the lottery conversation due to his average 3 point shooting percentage, age, and lack of a defined NBA position, many lauded Paschall for his high-floor and NBA readiness.

Just for reference, The Step Back, FanSided’s NBA blog listed Paschall as their 31st ranked prospect in the draft, while The Ringers’ Kevin O’Conner had him as high as 28th above actual first-round picks Cam Johnson, Darius Bazley, Dylan Windler, and (once again) his future GSW teammate Jordan Poole.

So based on the above information, if I were to tell you that Paschall would somehow still be on the board when the 76ers were on the clock 34th overall, one pick after the team traded Carsen Edwards to the Boston Celtics to secure Matisse Thybulle, it would almost seem too good to be true, right? Well you’re going to love this, he was on the board at that very pick, and the front office decided to bypass the Connecticut native for Maryland big man Bruno Fernando, who was immediately traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Jordan Bone (who was also eventually traded), a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2023 second-round pick.

On paper, that’s a lot of value for an early second-round pick, but when you’re a playoff team looking to reload for a title shot, do future picks really help you win now? The 6-foot-6 combo forward is averaging 13.4 points a game in a little under 27 minutes of action a night whereas those picks are quite literally years away from being NBA ready.

Granted, it’s hard to get mad at any team for passing on a player selected 41st overall who magically transformed into a surprise star, but when you enter the night with four second-round picks and only one turns into a player who ends up in camp with the team, that’s a bad look.  It’s an even worse look when you consider that the 76ers traded the very next pick, the 42nd overall, to unload Jonathon Simmons‘ contract on the Washington Wizards to save money.

We could have had Bol Bol! We could have had Terence Davis! We, we, we, *sigh* I digress.

Is Eric Paschall a perfect fit on the Philadelphia 76ers? Well, no, he’s shooting a putrid 28 percent from 3 point range and is among the worst defensive small forwards in the league according to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, but at 23 years old, he’s both old enough to contribute right now as a second-round rookie, and young enough to keep getting better over the course of his rookie season as compared to maxed out vets like James Ennis, Kyle O’Quinn, and even Mike Scott. Oh well, maybe the Golden State Warriors would be willing to trade Omari Spellman for Jonah Bolden, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2023 second-round pick. That’s a lot of value, right?