Stephen Curry was back from injury when the Golden State Warriors faced the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs, but he first have to start off the bench. Jordan Poole, meanwhile, led the Warriors to victory.
On Saturday at Chase Center, the rookie shooting guard scored 30 points in total. He recorded 9-for-13 field-goal shooting, 5-for-7 three-point shooting (5-for-7) and three assists. Poole effectively carried the Warriors to victory with a lead of 123-107.
Klay Thompsons hailed Jordan Poole after his recent performance, saying it would not “make sense” if Jordan Poole did not win the Most Improved Player award. Poole, Thompson said, was a “star in the making.” Jordan Poole spent last season in the G-League, so for him to become a major member of a competing group is nothing short of remarkable.
Klay Thompson on Jordan Poole: “If he doesn’t get Most Improved Player, it doesn’t make sense… What a star in the making.”
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) April 17, 2022
“I felt pretty prepared,” said Poole. “The coaching staff did a really good job of putting the game plan up, setting it up, and then we did a really good job as a team just going out there and executing.”
Poole was picked by the Warriors as the 28th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Warriors were just defeated in the finals, and Klay suffered a leg injury in the form of a torn ACL. Kevin Durant would later leave the Warriors to join the Brooklyn Nets. Along with that, the Warriors’ super squad era came to an end.
As a rookie, Poole averaged only 8.8 points per game. He did not appear to be ready for the top level. Therefore, he returned to the G League. He later came back as a different player.
Poole cemented his position as a go-to offensive option, on par with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson during the season. In the regular season, he averaged 18.5 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 4.0 assists per game.
“He’s earned the respect and trust of his teammates,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “They believe in him and they see what he’s done all year. So, there’s no hesitation to put the ball in his hands.”
Poole’s preparation extended beyond the Warriors’ coaching staff placing him in a position to thrive. His training began since the Warriors picked him at the 2019 NBA Draft.
Poole had established himself as a powerful shooter and facilitator via the AAU circuit, Milwaukee Rufus King High School, and the University of Michigan by that point. Poole’s coaches praised his confidence throughout those stops. They are said to be impressed by his coachability and desire for self-improvement.
Poole was equally open to the Warriors’ efforts to improve his shooting and defense. They admired Poole’s ability to take criticism without getting personal, while still having the confidence to question his coaches and teammates in the hopes of improving. Poole’s exercises were also prolonged after sessions and at night, both after great and poor results, according to a report.
“It’s just his hunger,” said Thompson. “He always had the talent. He had the handling skills. He had the shot. But his work ethic is what’s going to propel him.”