The NBA Report: Poole Party


In his rookie season two years ago, Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole rotated between maintaining an active social media presence and deleting his accounts altogether.

His uncertainty was indicative of where he was as a player. 

Poole was thrown into the fire from the beginning of what was largely a lost season in Oakland. 

Superstar shooting guard Klay Thompson was out for the year, rehabbing his torn ACL. 

After Kevin Durant’s departure, the Warriors were left reeling, attempting to fill the massive void from his absence with players like Glenn Robinson and Eric Paschall. 

Disaster struck when Stephen Curry broke his left hand in just the fourth game of the season. 

It seemed clear at this point that the Warriors were destined for the draft lottery and content with using the season to develop their young players. 

Thinned out by injuries and desperate for a scoring spark, the club put Poole– then a raw shooting guard fresh out of The University of Michigan– in positions that he wasn’t ready for. 

Poole frankly could have benefited from the G-League (the NBA’s developmental league)– an opportunity to work on his game in a less pressure-intensive environment.

Poole played 11 games for the Warriors’ G-League affiliate in Santa Cruz last season, which worked wonders. 

That development is part of the reason he’s primed for a breakout year.

Part of me is hesitant to go “all in” on Poole, especially considering that in only his third year in the league, he might be expected to score the third-most points per game on this team (behind Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins).

However, the skills Poole possesses makes it difficult to not be excited about his potential as an integral part of this revamped Warriors team with playoff aspirations. 

It may be imprudent to compare anyone to Stephen Curry, especially after the MVP-like season he had last year. 

That being said, it is hard to ignore some of the similarities Poole and Curry share. 

Poole is tremendous at playing off the ball. He has a knack for making the right cuts to the hoop and curling around off-ball screens to create open shots for himself.

Curry has famously tortured defenders for years with some of the same techniques, relying on his seemingly never-ending motor to get shots off.

Shots like this are reminiscent of one that Curry might take.

The confidence to shoot that shot— from four feet behind the three-point line, in transition, with time still on the clock—is not something that most 22-year-olds possess. 

Also like his backcourt partner, Poole has grown into a solid distributor throughout his first couple of seasons. 

While Poole mostly played shooting guard during his rookie season, he thrived last year as a point guard with the second unit.

Poole showcased his abilities in pick-and-roll situations, developing good chemistry with rookie center James Wiseman.

In a Warriors system that is heavily reliant on passing, Poole’s tendency to not let the ball stick in his hand is an important one. 

His most impressive development through two games this year, though, may be his dexterous finishing ability at the rim.

Here’s an example of Poole’s excellent footwork and body control around the rim. He beats Lakers’ center Dwight Howard with a quick first step before finishing with his inside hand to avoid Howard’s outstretched arm.

The combination of these different skills: off-ball creation, distribution and finishing at the rim, make for a high ceiling for the young guard. 

Poole has big shoes to fill this year—he will likely be starting at shooting guard until Klay Thompson can return from injury. But his early flashes have indicated a new level of development and poise which bode well for his future with the Warriors.

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