Warriors Dynasty Drafting: Eric Paschall and Alen Smailagic
EP was a very likable, high-value pick, but didn't move the dynasty
All articles in this series are at How the Warriors Extended The Dynasty Through The Draft, an in-depth series.
In the big picture, our comparisons show that GSW drafted quite well compared to who they could have drafted, and better than any other post-1980s dynasty. However, the nature of the draft is that you’ll get picks that don’t work out. It’s the overall body of work that counts for judging a front office. Criticizing an individual draft is like criticizing a player’s single shot. If it was a good shot, then the result is not as important as the overall shot profile and efficiency.
Despite having just said that, I will now critique the individual draft picks from the point of view of results for the dynasty.
Who was a better pick in 2019?
The Warriors picked Eric Paschall at #41.
He was a fun player: an undersized power forward who played tough, put his head down and got buckets, and had a crazy leprechaun hitch to his jumper. He even made 2020 All-Rookie First Team, a highlight of a dreadful last-place year.
But he never quite fit in as a small ball center, with his defense lacking and he never got the hang of the beautiful game automatic screening of Kerrball.
On Aug 7 2021, he was traded to UTA into their cap space for nothing (well technically, for a 2026 MEM second rounder, Top-42 protected). GSW did Paschall a favor by reuniting him with his close friend Donovan Mitchell.
Ultimately, the Warriors cut bait to make room on the roster for the 2021 crop of free agents. Functionally, he was replaced by Nemanja Bjelica; literally, his trade made room for the 15th spot on the roster which went to… Gary Payton II. So it was worth it.
FYI, Jul 2022, Paschall signed with MIN on a two-way, which strikes me as quite a bargain for MIN. I’m surprised Paschall couldn’t get a minimum and guaranteed roster spot for another team.
The players drafted after Paschall, ordered by Win Shares:
Terance Mann, LAC, #48. Sharpshooting spot starter for LAC.
Mann is a solid pro but down at #41, you feel happy just to get a player who makes your roster. Can’t feel too bad about missing on Mann.
How did GSW do against the field?
Eric Paschall ranks for the entire draft class #20 in Win Shares and #24 in Value Over Replacement Player.
He also made the All-Rookie First Team.
Great value for the #41 pick.
Dynasty Pick Grade: C+
Hold on, didn’t I just say what an outstanding value pick Paschall was? Yes, the pick shows his selection was a worthy one and it shows the skill of the front-office. From that perspective, I give the pick an A grade.
However, from the perspective of helping the Dynasty, the pick had no effect. Paschall was entertaining in 2019-20, but in 2020-21, he had become an awkward fit in the lineup. He got injured and missed a bunch of time, and by the time GSW hit its true championship stride with the 15-5 ending run, he was inactive and DNP for almost all the games.
Probably, I should give this an F, but I have to give some credit for the super high regular season value of the pick, and also giving us something to root for during the dark 2019-20 year.
So ultimately, a good pick, but not for the dynasty… but what do you expect from the #41 pick anyway?
Dynasty Pick Grade: F
Alen Smailagic was picked at #39 in 2019.
A favorite of one of the Lacobs, the Warriors famously loved this guy for a while, going so far as to hide him from other teams when they didn’t have contractual control over him. He made a splashy and very bold appearance in the big leagues, dunking on LeBron, shooting 3s, and missing spectacularly ambitious plays.
But he played 223 minutes total in the NBA, and contributed to no NBA Playoff wins. He’s currently playing for Partizan Belgrade.
Now, you might say, I just gave the Paschall pick a Dynasty grade of C+. Yes, but that was because it was a efficient pick. And yes, normally, I would have low expectations for a 2nd round pick, but in this case, not only was Smailagic a bust, but the Warriors also traded their 2021 2nd and 2023 2nd plus one million dollars cash considerations for this pick, so I have to go with the F here.
BadlyBrowned spells out a connection I want to highlight:
Being unable to keep their mouths shut about how much they liked him pre-draft and backing themselves into a corner to give up assets to draft him makes that a clear F grade.
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