With Steph Curry sitting out the Warriors' game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night because of a quad contusion, Jordan Poole was thrust back into the starting lineup, and he had a chance to put up big numbers with the NBA MVP frontrunner sidelined.
But Poole had a rough night at Smoothie King Center, and a big reason for his struggles was because of Pelicans rookie forward Herb Jones.
Poole played over 32 minutes in the Warriors' 101-96 loss to the Pelicans, and for more than 31 minutes, he only scored one point. Over the final 1:11 of the game, he dropped in 10 points to salvage his stat line.
But Poole still shot 3-of-14 from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-pointer range, with both triples coming during that 10-point scoring barrage at the end of the game.
After the game, Jones was asked about guarding Poole, and noted that the third-year pro shares a similar trait to Curry.
"I knew he was super skilled offensively and he's almost like Steph," Jones told reporters. "He never stops moving. I just tried to stay alert and make it super tough on him defensively, you know, force him into some tough twos and tough threes."
Through Thursday's games, the Pelicans rank 24th in the NBA with a 111.5 defensive rating, with Jones having the team's best individual defensive rating of 108.1, per NBA.com.
Jones was the No. 35 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and before the Warriors and Pelicans played, coach Steve Kerr said the 6-foot-8 Alabama product was on Golden State's radar during the pre-draft process.
"He's been really good," Kerr told reporters. "[Warriors president and general manager] Bob Myers last year, when he was scouting, he'd be in town and I would say 'Hey, who do you like out there?' And every time, he'd say 'I love this kid Herb Jones at Alabama.' He's like a mini-Draymond [Green]. He just knows how to play, he's long and athletic and defensive-minded and smart and can pass."
Much like Draymond does with opponents, Jones was tasked with defending the Warriors' most dynamic offensive player and completed the task.
Poole doesn't have the same game as Curry, but if the young guard can mimic the way Steph operates in the offense, then the Warriors will be better off when Curry isn't on the court and the "system" won't have as big of a drop off.