Warriors

Poole Proving to Be Long-Term Piece in Golden State

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There have been plenty of twists and turns for the Golden State Warriors this season.

A disappointing loss to the Orlando Magic pushed a losing streak to three games. A surprising, short-handed victory over the Miami Heat lifted the team’s spirits the next night, only to be followed by back-to-back road losses against the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards.

Such different levels of play have been evident for quite some time, especially as the team deals with a variety of injuries.

Amidst all of this, however, Jordan Poole has begun to exhibit the importance of consistency.

Despite the re-integration of Draymond Green into the lineup, and the absence of Stephen Curry as he deals with a sprained foot, it’s Poole’s opportunity to show the league who he can be.

And so far, he has done exactly that. Over his last 13 games, Poole has been a top-20 scorer in the NBA, averaging 25.5 points and 5.1 assists per game, all while leading the NBA in 3PM this month.

Poole has brought prominent scoring, ball distribution and a strong attacking mindset. His quick first step has consistently allowed him to display his wide variety of finishes, get to the free-throw line (where he’s second in the NBA in FT%), and set up his teammates for high-percentage looks.

But this isn’t the Jordan Poole the Warriors have seen on the court since they drafted him 28th overall in 2019.

Opportune Times

As a rookie during the infamous, shortened 2020 season, Poole played a large role for the NBA-worst Warriors who had a record of 15-50. No Steph or Klay Thompson, the Warriors viewed this as a season to rest their stars and look towards the future.

During his rookie season, Poole scored only 8.8 points per game at a clip of 33/28/80 in 22 minutes per contest. There were flashes of potential, with swift dribble moves to free up open jumpshots, and skillful penetration to get him to the rim, but overall he saw himself in an adjustment period to the NBA’s speed. Even with a pretty jumper and a score-first attitude, Poole appeared out of control and too eager to get himself a look to realize the tough positions he was putting himself in.

The next season was one of major growth for Poole, which included plenty more than just a new haircut. 

Early in the 2020-21 season, Poole exhibited some of the same issues he faced during his rookie year, and was subsequently sent down to the G League Bubble to lead the Sea Warriors squad. Thus began Poole’s blossom into an athlete who truly belongs in the NBA.

In 11 G League games, Poole averaged 22.4 points per game on 45/33/93 splits, a major improvement over his time in the big leagues. He played with poise and confidence, and found some momentum that he was able to carry with him as he returned to the Warriors.

In a loss to Phoenix on March 4th last season, Poole led the short-handed Warriors with 26 points and five 3-pointers. When asked about it after the game, he mentioned how playing in the G-League Bubble made it feel “good to go out there and play and get a little bit of a rhythm.”

He kept that rhythm going for the rest of the season, establishing a solid role in the Warriors’ rotation and showing he can benefit the team while playing alongside Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. 

In fact, during the Warriors’ six-game winning streak to close out the regular season and establish themselves as the No. 8 seed, Poole averaged 20.5 points per game, which included a 38-point outburst in a victory over New Orleans.

Never Satisfied

Poole’s consistency didn’t stop when the Warriors fell short in the play-in game last season; it pushed him even harder. Coach Steve Kerr complimented Poole’s work ethic during the offseason, calling him “the most consistent presence in this building.

Furthermore, even Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob praised Poole’s tenacity for growth, mentioning how he’d been studying Curry and Thompson film “not because he wants to be Steph or Klay but because he sees some things they do, and he wants to try to mimic the things that he can”.

Fast forward to Wednesday night in Miami, and Jordan Poole is facing double teams in attempt to slow him down.

Didn’t matter.

He still banked in two improbable shot-clock-beating threes on his way to a game-high 30 points. 

The hard work Poole has put in everyday has begun to pay off. He has proven himself to be a likely member of the Warriors’ closing lineup from this point forward, especially with how great the floor spacing has become with him, Curry and Thompson all sharing the court. 

We saw this have a critical impact in the Warriors’ 113-102 defeat of the Denver Nuggets. In the closing minutes, Denver forced the ball out of Curry’s hands and challenged the remaining Warriors to capitalize.

Poole did. He iced the game with back-to-back threes.

Long-Term Future?

It’s just the beginning of the Jordan Poole show for the Warriors, who are reportedly very interested in the idea of signing him to a contract extension this summer so as not to deal with him being a restricted free agent in 2023.

Now the challenge for Poole and the Warriors is to close out the regular season strong and hold on to the No. 3 seed in a loaded Western Conference. There’s a long way to go, but Poole knows what he is capable of. The Warriors know they are capable of winning a championship or two– it’s up to the whole team to determine how far they can go.

Another challenge for the Warriors’ young sharpshooter, but only the beginning of what could be a late-season run that defines who Jordan Poole can truly be.

About Tyler Brook

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