Before the 2019 NBA Draft arrives, Peachtree Hoops will break down more than 70 available prospects with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks may look to do in late June.
This report focuses on Villanova forward Eric Paschall.
The 2017-18 Villanova Wildcats were an all-time great college basketball team. Jay Wright’s club zoomed to the national championship in dominant fashion, posted unbelievable offensive numbers and sent major talent to the NBA. In fact, four of the top 33 selections in the 2018 NBA Draft — Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman and Jalen Brunson— came from that squad and it is safe to say there was plenty of talent on the floor during that magical run.
With that in mind, combo forward Eric Paschall was a key cog for Villanova over the past four seasons, including the fact that he started 38 games (playing 29.8 minutes per contest) for the title-winning team. Paschall, alongside fellow contributor Phil Booth, returned for another season in Philadelphia in 2018-19 and, while the team success wasn’t quite at the same level, there is an argument to be made for Paschall’s inclusion among the top 40 prospects available in the 2019 NBA Draft.
From a production standpoint, Paschall’s senior season was a mixed bag when compared to his junior campaign. His per-game averages (16.5 points and 6.1 rebounds) were higher during his final season, which makes given his expanded role in the absence of other elite-level contributors. On the flip side, Paschall’s efficiency (45 percent from the floor, 35 percent from three-point range) dipped in 2018-19, as his role in the offense grew to a point that he isn’t likely to replicate at the professional level.
In forecasting Paschall’s fit in the NBA, it would be wise to peer into his junior season (one in which he was, at best, the No. 5 offensive option) but, as an overall evaluation, there is plenty to like about Paschall as a prospect. He isn’t an elite shooter, but Paschall buried 106 of 302 three-point attempts (35.1 percent) over his last two college seasons. There is reason to believe he’ll be a capable floor-spacer at the next level as a result, even if Paschall won’t ever be the kind of sniper that terrifies the opposition.
Paschall’s shooting is also important (and a potential swing skill) because, in short, he doesn’t need the ball to be successful. That is a huge selling point for a projected role player, and Paschall moves well without the ball, using his stout frame and high basketball IQ to fill in the gaps needed to facilitate quality offense. Paschall’s athleticism is a question mark but, on the offensive end, he fits the bill of a low-usage role player that won’t gum up the works.
Noting his athletic question marks, Paschall is both strong and physical. He has solid measurements as a combo forward from a length standpoint (6’7.25 with a 6’11.75 wingspan), but Paschall is probably a bit heavier than you would like at this moment. He weighed in at 254 pounds and, if he slots in as a primary power forward, that might work. If not, Paschall will need to prove his athleticism and quickness on the perimeter, especially in dealing with quicker guards while defending in space.
To that end, Paschall was a quality college defender and, as noted above, his basketball IQ and awareness isn’t an issue. In addition, his motor always runs hot, providing some confidence that, as a pure supporting piece, Paschall could be able to fly around to make up for his relatively limited burst. Still, it remains an unknown as to how he’ll translate when attempting to stifle NBA-caliber wings and that could send him into a “tweener” profile that wouldn’t be ideal.
Lastly, Paschall is (very) old by prospect standards. After his four-year tour at the highest levels of college basketball, he turns 23 years old in November and, while not disqualifying, that certainly isn’t a selling point.
In the end, Paschall’s combination of low ceiling and age peg him for a likely second round landing spot, even if some view him as a potential find near the end of the first round as a role player for an established contender. Through the prism of the Atlanta Hawks, the theory of Paschall’s NBA game makes sense, as the team could certainly find room for low-usage, defensive-minded players in small roles. As a result, Atlanta could be a logical landing spot for Paschall with any of the franchise’s trio of second-round selections and, of course, he would reunite with a college teammate in Spellman if that marriage came to fruition.
There isn’t anything “sexy” about Eric Paschall’s game and, as such, his arrival won’t energize any NBA fan base. That doesn’t indicate a lack of qualifications, though, and Paschall could slot in as the kind of role player that most teams desire and need.