Kerr sends clear message to Poole amid Warriors’ skid originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
MINNEAPOLIS — Jordan Poole was a big reason the Warriors opened this season like a house on fire. The third-year guard averaged 16.7 points per game through the first two-plus months of the season, slotting in as the starting shooting guard while Klay Thompson finished his Achilles rehab.
Poole was electric through the first 28 games of the season. He gave the Warriors a scoring threat next to Curry and provided much-needed offensive pop leading Golden State’s second unit. Thompson’s return sent Poole to the Sixth Man role, and the young guard’s play has ebbed and flowed since as he has struggled to find solid footing.
It’s no coincidence that Poole’s dip in play has meshed with the Warriors’ 2022 slide (14-11 in their last 25 games), culminating in a putrid February in which he shot 41.1 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from deep. He hasn’t been as aggressive on offense or as vigilant defensively. During the Warriors’ 107-101 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, Poole scored just four points and went 0-for-7 from the field.
With 21 games remaining, the Warriors know they need the best of Poole to re-emerge. Coach Steve Kerr is confident it will.
“He has had a great year,” Kerr said Tuesday before the Warriors’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. “The other night to me is nothing. He had a tough night. I could have done a better job trying to help him find a rhythm. Didn’t play him enough in the first half, probably. These games, they all matter, but there is 82 of them. So I never worry too much about one game with any of them. I look at the big picture, and the big picture is that Jordan has had a fantastic year, and we have great faith in him.
“He’s had a great year, and he’s been a big reason for our success,” Kerr continued. “He’s only in his third year. He’s still got a lot of growth ahead of him, which is exciting. He just needs to keep working. He’s one of our hardest workers, and he’s got a great approach, and he’s got a really bright future, so it’s exciting.”
After the loss to the Mavericks, Steph Curry said Poole needed to remain “engaged” and be more “versatile” for the Warriors to get the best out of him during the stretch run.
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It’s clear that the inconsistent role has impacted Poole’s play.
As a starter this season, Poole is averaging 18.3 points per game while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 34.9 from 3. As a reserve, Poole is only scoring 12.2 points per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 29.3 from distance.
With Thompson out with an illness, it might seem logical for Kerr to insert Poole back into the starting lineup against a Timberwolves team that stars a lackadaisical on-ball defender in D’Angelo Russell to get his confidence back up.
But Kerr instead elected to start rookie Moses Moody for the second straight game. Kerr pointed to Minnesota’s ability to hit the offensive glass and Otto Porter’s minutes restrictions as reasons he was starting the bigger Moody on Tuesday.
But the message was clear: The Warriors need Poole to figure out how to thrive in the role the Warriors need him to play when the lights are brightest. Finding that starts now.
“That’s what he is going to be doing when we are at full strength,” Kerr said,” and he might as well get comfortable in it.”
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism