The Golden State Warriors are amazing at giving their fans prospects to salivate over.
Remember the “Anthony Randolph Summer League Supernova”, crystallized by his 42-point outburst against the Chicago Bulls? Lamar Odom said the youngster had “hall-of-fame talent”. It wasn’t long before Warriors fans realized “Randy” wasn’t the next coming of Kevin Garnett, and he found himself out of the league.
More recently, the Dub Nation hype train was derailed over the legend of Patrick McCaw, a.k.a. the guy who preceded Kevin Durant in walking away from a prime dynasty. McCaw went from hitting buzzer beaters in preseason and playing crucial minutes in the Finals for a championship, to mysteriously going AWOL on the team until they let him go, allowing him to join the enemy Raptors’ roster last June.
SAY WHAT YOU WANT 3 STRAIGHT NBA FINALS APPEARANCES?! I CAN'T MAKE THIS UP ... MY FAITH GOT ME HERE, NOTHING BUT GOD!!! ZERO WORRIES ZERO DOUBTS— Patrick McCaw (@PMcCaw0) May 26, 2019
Thankfully, the Warriors have been able to scoop up another crop of hot prospects heading into this season, headlined by the rookie from Michigan, Jordan Poole.
Been a very positive preseason for Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall, the Warriors two rotation rookies.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 19, 2019
Poole loves the splash
Preseason Averages: 22.6 MPG, 13.2 PPG, 1.4 REB, 1.0 AST, 2.2 TOV, 35.2 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 88.2 FT%
Something to love: Golden State knew they had a Klay Thompson-sized hole in their offense heading into the 2019-2020 season, but they may have found a potential stopgap solution in Poole.
This Jordan Poole curl and pop has Klay written all over it. pic.twitter.com/0JiUzxChZw— TheWarriorsTalk (@TheWarriorsTalk) October 15, 2019
Poole spent his preseason reps much like he did his Summer League time: hungrily searching for ways to score. When his feet are set beyond the arc, he showed the ability to connect on triples with impunity. He also showed off a cagy mid-range game, born from a growing understanding of when to shift and accelerate through the Warriors offense.
Jordan Poole demanded the ball and drilled the deeeep 3 on KCP. Why not have him start at small forward? pic.twitter.com/8ku25eo4K3— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) October 17, 2019
Jordan Poole, when asked what it’s like playing with Curry & DLo and if he possibly would defer to them on the court, answered:— Grant Liffmann (@GrantLiffmann) October 12, 2019
“Just play basketball. If I’m open I’ll shoot it. If I’m hot I think I’ll shoot it”...
Looks like GSW finally found a confident gunner off the bench
His shooting percentages and assist-to-turnover ratio leave much to be desired, but it was encouraging to watch Poole fearlessly attack while learning the Warriors vaunted motion offense on the fly.
Jordan Poole is what we wanted Quinn Cook and Patrick PcCaw to be— Stelo Johnson (@SteloJohnson) October 12, 2019
Something to work on: I mentioned Poole looks ready to help fill the Klay-sized hole in the offense; but what about the defense?
Poole’s biggest highlights (or lowlights) came at the hand of another rookie, Zach Norvell Jr, who assaulted Poole’s ankles on two separate occasions.
The Warriors defense struggled mightily throughout the preseason, and Poole could certainly be pointed out as one of the culprits. Of course, as a rookie we shouldn’t get too down on him. He has the size and motor to be competitive on that end, and he has an entire regular season to be fully baptized into the difficult task of guarding the NBA’s best.
Additionally, Poole averaging more turnovers than assists is no bueno. If the Warriors are going to trust him to participate in a flow-state and make quick trigger decisions with the ball, he has to learn to avoid turnovers like this one:
I have no doubt that he will improve here, unless Steph Curry teaches him the risky art of the no-look, off-hand, behind-the-back pass. #DANGER
Will Poole be more like a Splash Bro or more like a McCaw?
Poole has the benefit of joining a Warriors roster quickly retooling while stubbornly holding on to their championship aspirations. Five straight trips to the Finals can make a franchise greedy, after all. Poole will be immediately asked to contribute, and in a major way.
Contrast that with McCaw’s situation. A lack of consistent opportunity appeared to have soured his outlook on his potential in Oakland. He struggled to find playing time on a stacked depth chart of title hunting vets, suffered a severe back injury that threatened to end his career, and even cried after the 2018 Finals, feeling as though he had played his last game with the team.
When he left, it was both sad and bizarre for a fan base that had filed him away in their back of their minds as a future core piece.
CONGRATS TO THREEPEAT LEGEND PATRICK MCCAW pic.twitter.com/NBd6NDIINq— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) June 14, 2019
Warriors assistant GM Kirk Lacob spoke ESPN about the difficulties of getting the most out of a young player on a stacked roster:
“I had a conversation with Draymond about this right after our season. He said, ‘I would not be the player I was today if I had come onto this Warriors team three years ago,’” Lacob said. “He’s like ‘When I got here, we were a completely different team. I was given a chance, and I failed a lot.’
And he’s like, ‘I sucked my first year. My second year I was OK. My third year I got an opportunity. That’s hard for young guys who aren’t being given that opportunity because we got guys who have been here a long time and have established roles. There’s just no opportunity for growth.’”
That shouldn’t be a problem for Poole. His situation more resembles what the young Splash Bros found after the departure of Monta Ellis. Remember young Steph ‘n’ Klay, running around the court firing up jumpers from all over the place while Pastor Mark Jackson nodded approvingly on the sidelines? In those days the roster was still being formed, and those two shooters had plenty of opportunities to flourish.
Today’s Warriors need the young Poole to continue his rapid growth to provide some firepower. If he can come into his own during this wide-open regular season, it could weaponize the Warriors once again, and help the Golden Empire fend off the desperate scourges of the Western Conference for a sixth straight time.