DENVER -- An hour after the Warriors' biggest win of the season, rookie Jordan Poole was in a jovial mood.
After getting dressed, the 20-year old zig-zagged through Pepsi Center's unique locker room, then the training room and into the bright camera lights ahead. He wasn't coming to get interviewed but to ask a fellow rookie some poignant questions.
"You had an amazing performance tonight. Being able to come in and give us energy off the bench. What do you think really put us in that situation tonight?" Poole asked Warriors teammate Eric Paschall.
"Next question," Paschall deadpanned before bursting into laughter.
Tuesday's levity was appropriate after the Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets on their home floor. Paschall and Poole are in the best spot of their young careers, helping the Warriors along during their worst season in nearly a decade.
"I think all of our rookies are dramatically better," their coach, Steve Kerr, said. "This is how it should be. There's so much to learn in the NBA."
These days, the duo seems to be ahead of the curve. Poole and Paschall combined for 37 points 11 assists and eight rebounds against Denver, leading Golden State to a 62-47 advantage in the second half.
Poole hit two 3-pointers in the final minute of the third quarter, including a buzzer-beater to put the Warriors up three. Paschall followed suit a quarter later, scoring nine of his 22 points over the final 12 minutes.
Tuesday's stretch encapsulated each player's fortunes these days. While Paschal has scored at least 20 points in four of his last five outings, Poole is averaging 16.5 points since the All-Star break.
Each player took a different path to get here. Paschall played well to start his season, averaging 16.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists through his first nine games and even scoring a career-high 34 points on his birthday on Nov. 4. His game became predictable as opponents scouted him, and Paschall's shot selection suffered.
Paschall's performance in the Warriors' last two wins epitomizes how far he has come. The rookie led Golden State's depleted offense -- minus Poole, Draymond Green and any point guards -- to 115 points in a victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday, and his 22-point, five-assist performance was vital Tuesday.
While Paschall struggled on the biggest stage, Poole was left to find his game in G League after shooting worse than 30 percent from the field in his first 29 games. Kerr gave the guard a mandate during his odyssey: Watch tape of guards JJ Redick and Landry Shamet, and take notes. More specifically, the way each guard cuts and finds space to get shots within a motion offense. But Poole looked closer to another player as inspiration to get out of his rut.
Poole's obsession with his teammate's movement even trickled to his pre-game workout, in which the 20-year old now shoots near halfcourt to end his session just like his MVP-teammate. The adjust worked as Poole averaged 26 points, six rebounds and 5.3 assists during his developmental stint.
"It was a matter of him getting to the league and maturing," Warriors forward Juan Tuscano-Anderson, Poole's G League teammate earlier this season, told NBC Sports Bay Area. "When he came down, he played his game. His confidence doesn't waver."
Poole's inner belief is apparent in his eclectic persona. Before games, he dances through shooting spots during workouts, singing to himself as music blasts through his headphones. He wore a jacket with a giant smiley face on the back after Tuesday's win.
His consistent free spirit extends to the court. Each inquiry into his psyche during his shooting slump was met with the same response he shared Tuesday.
"It got me here," he said. "I feel like that's the only way I can answer that question."
Poole and Paschall were the antidotes to the Warriors' battered roster Tuesday. Poole received a pass from Paschall with 38 seconds left in the third quarter and banked in a 28-footer, tying the game at 78. Thirty seconds later, he broke down Nuggets big man Mason Plumlee and drained another 3-pointer at the buzzer, showing off a Curry-like shimmy on his way to the bench.
Jordan Poole hit the step back and then pulled out the Steph shimmy 😂 pic.twitter.com/LVCUIgyPpI— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 4, 2020
When Poole wasn't shooting, he was dishing to his rookie pal. With the Warriors up four in midway through the fourth, Poole jumped through a crowd in the lane and fired a pass to Paschall in the corner for a 3-pointer.
"It's such a different game from the college game, and so you have to learn and see all these pictures, and you see them over and over again and then you start to recognize them before they happen," Kerr said. When you gain that experience it allows you to be a step ahead. I think that's what you're seeing with Jordan and Eric."
The latest step in the rookie evaluation will come alongside Curry, who could play Thursday evening. If recent history is a barometer, the duo will use the same attitude to coexist with their superstar teammate.
"We're going to see when he comes back," Paschall said. "My role doesn't matter as long as I'm playing and able to contribute to the team."