You know an NBA player is on a different level when his coach encourages him to shoot a 3-pointer in a 2-on-1 situation. On the Warriors, that privilege is usually reserved for superstar guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Well, add guard Jordan Poole to the list. He started for the injured Curry in Golden State’s impressive 116-103 win in Memphis against the Grizzlies, and one of his first acts was to take one such 3-pointer. In went in, of course, to put the Warriors up 5-0, and the blowout was on.
Here’s the clip, per The Athletics’s Anthony Slater. In total, Poole shot 10-for-15 from the floor including 3-for-6 from distance on his way to 25 points.
That’s definitely new-school basketball. Poole had what should be an easy two points but opted to risk it for three. But Kerr said after the game that Poole is one of his best scorers and can take that shot if he’d like. That’s a dramatic turnaround from Poole’s rookie season a year ago, when he shot 28 percent from distance. His development has been breathtaking.
And Poole can do more than fill it up. He’s had 13 assists and just two turnovers in his last two games, per Slater. That’s in addition to scoring totals of 26, 14, 18, 14, 23, and 25 points at a time when Kerr threw him and fellow young guard Nico Mannion to the wolves of the NBA, thrusting them into a new, vital reserve role.
The assist totals are interesting because Kerr has been hesitant to play Poole at point guard. I understand to an extent, since Poole is clearly a combo guard. But that definition itself includes the ability to pass the basketball, so why not play Poole at the point if needed? You could say Kerr got the answer on Friday: there’s no reason not to.
In fact, Poole’s game is similar to that of Kerr’s No. 1 point guard, Curry. That audacious 3-pointer in Poole’s big opportunity in Memphis is Exhibit “A.” And his assist capability is of course Exhibit “B.”
What I’m saying is, as weird as it may sound, is that the Warriors may have themselves a baby Curry on their hands in Jordan Poole.
It’s unclear exactly how good he’ll become, but it is clear that he’ll be a large part of the Warriors’ planned resurgence. He fits Kerr’s system perfectly (the Warriors had 30-plus assists without Curry on Friday), and it’s just a matter of time before he’s taking, and making, wild 3-pointers alongside both Thompson and Curry as Golden State attempts to win another NBA title.
Here are some more stats from the Grizzlies game. It was really fun to watch, with forward Andrew Wiggins scoring 40 points for the first time as a Warrior, including a career-high 27 points in a half to start the game.
(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)