Jordan Poole Has Arrived
On Saturday night, the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors squared off in game one of their NBA playoff series. It was a matchup that featured multiple MVPs, All-Stars, and future Hall of Famers. However, one player shined brighter than them all: Jordan Poole.
Warriors’ third-year guard Jordan Poole has had a breakout season. The 28th pick in the 20019 NBA draft, Poole has had a rocky road through his first three seasons. As a rookie, Poole struggled on an injury-bitten Warriors team that finished as the worst team in the NBA. Poole averaged just 8.8 points per game shooting only 29% from beyond the three-point line and wasn’t even the best rookie on the Warriors. At the time, Poole looked as if he was heading towards the career that many late draft picks have had. Spend a few years as a reserve, end of the bench type of guy, maybe crack the rotation for a few tanking teams in his career. But Poole kept working. Poole went through multiple stints in the G-League and seemed to end last year on a roll with newfound confidence. The veterans on the team have raved about how open and hungry to learn Poole has been over the last few years. This season, he’s been one of if not the most improved players in the NBA.
Game One against the Nuggets was the next step in Poole’s ascension. With 3:17 left in the second quarter and following a string of five missed Warriors shots, Poole came off a Draymond Green screen to knock down a 27-foot three-pointer to tie the game. On the following possession, Poole drove to the basket on Will Barton and made a circus shot and-one layup that caused the crowd at the Chase Center to explode in excitement, giving the Warriors the lead. They wouldn’t trail the rest of the game.
Poole ended his playoff debut with an efficient 30 points and knocked down 5 three-pointers in the win. His performance seemed to establish the Warriors as a true threat to win a championship this year. He showed that they are so much more than just Steph Curry, that there was someone else that teams had to worry about on defense and they could not simply play what Steph has referred to as the “Janky Defense” where teams try to deny Steph the chance to even touch the ball. Often times opposing teams have faced the Warriors with the mentality of “make someone other than Steph beat you.” If they adopt that same mentality in the playoffs, Jordan Poole will beat them.
Since March 1st, Jordan Poole is scoring over 24 points per game and has made 90 of his 210 three-pointers, good for about a 42% mark. In that same time span, no other player in the league has more than 70 made threes. Poole in many ways has turned into a Steph Curry doppelganger, becoming the elite type of volume shooter and playmaker that opponents need to game plan around.
The only thing more exciting than what Jordan Poole is now is the prospect of what he could be. Poole will turn 23 in June and will be eligible for a contract extension this Summer. What was once a difficult decision coming into the year is anything but now. The Warriors must do whatever they can to retain Jordan Poole. Not only is he vital to their success now, but he is the future of the franchise as the team approaches a post Splash Brothers-Draymond era. Poole will be an All-Star in due time. It’s evident to those who are around him and those who are watching him night in and night out that he is on an upward trajectory in his career. Fans tend to look at only what is directly in front of them when it comes to discussing players. It’s important to remember that development does not happen overnight, and that progression is not linear. Steph wasn’t an All-Star until his 5th year in the league. Kobe scored 7.6 points per game as a rookie. Kawhi Leonard didn’t crack the 20-point-per-game barrier until his 5th season. There are very few players who are great the second they step into the league. It takes most guys a little bit to figure it out. Jordan Poole has figured it out and the rest of the league should be terrified.