As grim as it sounds, the Golden State Warriors’ current circumstances are one of the reasons they kept Jordan Poole in the fold.
With Stephen Curry out indefinitely due to left shoulder subluxation, Klay Thompson still trying to rediscover his form, and both Donte DiVincenzo and Moses Moody struggling to become consistent contributors, offensive production from the backcourt as of late has primarily gone through Poole. He has pretty much feasted on these newfound opportunities.
No Curry for the time being obviously means there will be a lot of shots to go around but Poole took it to another level against the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors are a defensively imposing team on paper, but that has not translated to much success thus far. Against Poole, Toronto’s defensive game plan was pretty much rendered useless. He picked his spots, utilized screens to get his shots, and found his teammates with crafty passes on the way to a career-high 43 points.
That Poole is a three-level scorer may be putting it simply as he is as balanced as they come. On the season, the 23-year old’s shot attempts have almost been evenly split, as 51 percent of his shot attempts are from behind the 3-point arc compared to 49 percent from inside the arc. It helps that Poole is not overly reliant on a particular spot on the floor as the need to find his rhythm won’t be an issue as he can be as effective in the midrange and he is from further out.
The pick-and-roll has also been instrumental for Poole’s shot diet and it has been his best friend. It has helped him create space and with defenses viewing him as a scoring threat after an imminent screen, and so Poole has taken advantage of this by dishing off to teammates and emerging as another playmaker the Warriors can run off. It’s fair to say that this has been evident even in small parts, but the career-high 4.6 assists Poole is averaging through 31 games points to a concerted effort that is part circumstance and part evolution to his game.
Poole is a product of the short “developmental” era the Warriors went through when their core of Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green were battling their respective injuries and slumps. He was notably sent to the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G-League affiliate, and while others would perceive it as a demotion, it was motivation for the former Michigan Wolverine.
For Poole, the reps were there for the taking and he used it to hone the skills he knew would get him minutes with the Warriors. Being a consistent scorer off the bench was what brought him back to Golden State and led him to being a key piece to the 2022 Warriors title run. Now, it’s a new season and in what is turning out to be a slightly different role, Poole is working his way to answering the call.
There will still be some cold shooting nights in order and while it’s something undesired, Golden State would rather that Poole work through it rather than force the issue and worsen things altogether. Of course, it helps that the Wisconsin native has made efforts to develop other parts of his game, and that could help keep him on the court and find ways to get his shot back.
In the long run, and that could mean more or less five years down the road, it will be Poole’s turn to be the Warriors’ leader on a night-to-night basis. If the G-League assignment was a means to prepare him for what he was to be Golden State, this time with Curry out is his chance to learn the ropes of being the first option and all that comes with it. Of course, the experience gained now and the games won this season are well and good, but playing the long game has its benefits, especially when it comes to the dynastic Warriors.
Jordan Poole is another example of the Golden State Warriors’ embarrassment of riches. However, the recent string of injuries and slumps have made him a saving grace rather than a luxury, with Poole’s gains emerging as a boon for the Warriors’ title defense.