Amongst the stories behind the remarkable Golden State Warriors season is one almost taken for granted. Behind the rise to prominence of Gary Payton II, the resurgence of Otto Porter Jr., the tantalizing future of Jonathan Kuminga and the spectacular plays by Andrew Wiggins, is the invaluable output of Jordan Poole.
He is no Klay Thompson, no one is, but Poole is in his third month of commendably and admirably filling the offensive void occasioned by Thompson’s absence. Not sure the Warriors would be 30-7 without Poole, a 6-foot-4 shooting and point guard from Michigan.
The 22 year old scored a game-high 32 points, including a jaw-dropping dunk over 6-foot-11 Miami Heat center Omer Yurtseven with 1:43 remaining that punctuated a 115-108 victory before a sellout crowd, last Monday night at Chase Center.
ADJUSTING TO ROLE ON THE 6TH LANE
After starting for two months, this was Poole’s second game as Golden State’s Sixth Man, and he crushed the assignment. On a night when Curry scored nine points on 3-of-17 shooting, getting 32 from Poole – as well as five assists – on 12-of-17 shooting was good to see.
“Jordan came into the game and got right to it,” Draymond Green said. “It was great. Obviously, moving forward, that’s going to be more of his role. And to see him embrace that and come – I was a little pissed off at him watching the Utah game; I didn’t think he was aggressive enough. Tonight, that was totally different.”
Coach Steve Kerr acknowledges that there will be lineups featuring Curry, Thompson and Poole, who has some point guard skills. It’s an instant headache for any defense.
“I’m sure that will happen,” Kerr said. “It will be a great shooting lineup, and when Klay comes back, we’ll have a lot of different combinations that we will look at. But he (Poole) was great tonight.”
Averaging 17.5 points per game in his third season, Poole is Golden State’s third-leading scorer, with Curry No. 1 and Andrew Wiggins No. 2. For the record, Thompson averaged 18.4 points per game in his third season.
FUTURE NOT DETEREMINED BY BENCH ROLE
Of a truth, the 6th man role suits Poole and will transition hitch-free. He will be the key guy leading the second unit, which should provide the Warriors with a tremendous boost off the bench in the playoffs.
The Warriors are going to need his instant offense, much in the way the back-to-back Championship winning Golden State team needed Andre Iguodala’s offensive finesse and defensive artistry.
With Steph Curry turning 34 in March, and Thompson 32 come February, it is quite certain that Poole will not have to wait half a decade before his name becomes a regular feature amidst A-list hoop stars.