At the end of the 2019 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors lost Klay Thompson to an ACL injury and Kevin Durant to an Achilles injury. Durant proceeded to leave for Brooklyn and Steph Curry was lost most of the 2019-20 NBA season with a wrist injury. Draymond Green was on and off the court last season, and Thompson tore his Achilles the night of the 2020 NBA Draft. The Warriors have not been at full strength since the time of Durant’s initial calf injury during the 2019 NBA playoffs.
Due to their lack of consistent star firepower, Steve Kerr has been forced to utilize the bench depth of Golden State on a nightly basis. One of the recent bi-products of the Warriors’ need for depth has been Jordan Poole, a guard out of the University of Michigan. Poole was drafted with the 28th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Warriors. Best known for his buzzer-beater over Houston that sent Michigan to the Sweet 16 in 2018, Poole received immediate minutes last season with the injury suffered by Curry.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 17, 2021
In the 2019-20 NBA season, Poole averaged 8.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 0.6 steals per game off the bench. The biggest issue for Poole in his opening season was his low shooting splits, 40/28/80, which often happens for young guards in the NBA. Averaging 14 points per 36 minutes, Poole showed promise and impressed Kerr and the coaching staff in his 22 minutes per game in the 2019-20 season.
With Curry back and better than ever this season, Andrew Wiggins on the roster, and Kelly Oubre eating up shots, Poole’s role has been limited in the 2020-21 season. Veterans Brad Wanamaker and Damion Lee have also commanded some guard minutes, until recent weeks when Poole has taken Wanamaker’s role off the bench. Poole proved his value to Kerr, averaging 10.4 points per game in only 15 minutes per game so far this year.
“I’ve been a fan since I first met the kid. He had a pro game. He’s a hooper. There are guys that are basketball players, and then there are guys that are hoopers. Poole is a hooper,” said Juan Toscano-Anderson.
He went on in that interview to praise Poole and explain that the 21-year-old guard deserves more looks after Poole’s 26 point performance against Memphis on Saturday night. Poole is shooting 50/40/90 this season, and he has amazed fans, players, and coaches alike.
Jordan Poole in the 2nd Quarter:
💥 15 Points
💥 4-6 3PM pic.twitter.com/rUdaJ6yb5m
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 18, 2021
“He’s been fantastic every single game since he’s come back from Orlando,” Kerr said Saturday night.
With Curry currently sidelined after taking a rough fall in Houston, Poole has jumped into a starting role and thrived. Poole has led the offensive starting unit alongside Green, and the young guard has looked calm, cool, and collected doing it.
“Poole was even dominant in our scrimmage in practice yesterday. He is just brimming with confidence right now. It’s great to see. Playing at a high level and will continue to get opportunities,” said Kerr after announcing that Poole will start with Curry out for the next three games.
The Warriors will likely get a top pick in the 2021 draft from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Thompson will return and the Golden State front office will have plenty of leeway to make the team a contender again. With a solidified backcourt once Thompson returns, Poole will be a valuable piece moving forward, and the young guard could even be the key sixth man to power Golden State to another finals appearance.
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