A guard on the Golden State Warriors has been making waves this preseason with his lights-out shooting, but it might not be the one (or two) whom casual fans would expect.
With Steph Curry’s workload predictably being managed throughout the Warriors’ preseason and Klay Thompson still a couple of months away from his much-awaited return to the court, Jordan Poole has seized the opportunity to make himself known.
The incoming third-year guard has averaged 23 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in four exhibition appearances which were all wins for Golden State. His shooting percentages – 51.6% from the field and 40% on three pointers – have been Splash Brothers-esque and he has made a valid case to turn this duo into a trio.
Beyond the statistics, what makes Poole’s recent stretch truly impressive is that he looks confident on the floor and has played without any tinge of hesitation. He has taken three-pointers from 30-feet out in a single fluid motion that is reminiscent of his elder teammates, who have clearly made an impact on the young prospect.
Although he has grabbed the headlines and mainstream attention just over the past two weeks, the beginning of his emergence actually came in the second half of last season.
Following a slow start to the ‘20-’21 campaign, Poole was sent to the G-League Bubble in Orlando, Florida last February where he played for Golden State’s affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors. While playing for Santa Cruz, Poole flourished and was the second-leading scorer in the G-League regular season with 22.4 points per game.
The time that he spent in Florida was clearly beneficial for his development and his confidence soared. In his first game back with Golden State in early March, Poole scored 26 points in 26 minutes off the bench. He proceeded to score in double digits over the Warriors’ next nine games and became an integral part of their rotation as a reserve combo guard.
The highlight of last season came in Golden State’s penultimate regular season match where Poole drew a start and erupted for 38 points and six assists in a three-point win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
It is clear that the 6’4 guard built on his momentum from last year during the summer and he has reaped the early dividends of his relentless work ethic. He did not change his game radically and instead focused on mastering his existing arsenal. Poole has also bulked up and looks considerably stronger compared to his last NBA appearance a few months ago.
Aside from his lights-out three-point shooting this preseason, Poole has also been deadly when creating off the dribble either for himself or his teammates. The 22-year-old can finish strong at the rim or pull-up for mid range jumpers which in turn opens up opportunities for him to create for his teammates.
His development is a welcome sight for a Warriors team that still hopes to contend this season. Their title window with the now 33-year-old Curry has continued to grow smaller and each season that passes without another championship is a wasted one.
If Poole can maintain this level of play throughout the regular season and provide Golden State with another reliable offensive weapon, this team will instantly turn into a dark horse contender even without a fully recovered Thompson. He will have ample opportunities in the Warriors’ backcourt with the five-time NBA All-Star Thompson not expected to return at least until the end of 2021.
This gives him leeway to adjust to his bigger role in the interim and if he can successfully acclimate to it, the combination of Curry, Thompson, and this version of Poole could become the best shooting trio in the league.
Though the leap that he has taken from where he was last season to these past few weeks is sizable, this does not seem like a fluke by any means. The championship culture at Golden State has clearly rubbed off on him and it is most evident in his on-court demeanor.
He looks calm, cool, and collected, and moves about with an undeniable swagger that is foreshadowing a breakout year from the Michigan alumnus. Poole is ready to dive in and make a splash with these Warriors and he just might be the guy that they need to make a run at another NBA championship.