Warriors

Poole shows new element to his game in win vs. Rockets

Warriors
Jordan Poole

It's easy to fall in love with Jordan Poole's 3-point shot. He has good-looking form and the confidence to pull up from anywhere.

Sometimes when Poole gets hot, it feels like you're watching a different version of Steph Curry or Klay Thompson. If he's looking to join the Splash Brothers, his application is in good shape. 

But, it's not the only lethal part of Poole's game. And frankly, it's not the part of his game that he should be looking to use. Instead, there needs to be an emphasis on his ability to attack the basket. 

"His ability to get to the rim and get into the paint and drive," Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area after shootaround last week. "We've got shooters in that second unit with Otto (Porter Jr.) and (Nemanja Bjelica) and Damion Lee. But we need to break the defense down.

"And Jordan is one of our best guys at that."

Kerr said that ahead of the Warriors' win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday after Poole had gone off for 31 points and six 3-pointers two days earlier. Against the Pelicans, Poole scored 26 points and made another six 3s. 

Again, easy to fall in love with that kind of shooting. But, as Andre Iguodala pointed out, there still is something else needed from Poole. 

"We gotta get him to the foul line,” Iguodala said after the win over the Pelicans. “I think that’s the next phase for him -- not relying on having 26 with zero free throws. I think he had 31 last game with zero free throws. He likes those Klay (Thompson) stat lines. He had no rebounds and, oh, he had an assist."

 

Apparently, Iguodala's little jab at Poole worked, as he went to the free throw line nine times in Sunday's 120-107 win over the Houston Rockets, including seven attempts in the first half alone. Poole entered Sunday's contest having attempted only eight free throws all season long. He said he didn't think he did anything differently against Houston, but that the whistles just went more in his favor. 

Poole finished the game with 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting -- only two makes of which were 3-pointers -- five assists, four rebounds and one steal. 

"I just think he had some openings and he attacked and just did a nice job recognizing driving lanes and that's big," Kerr said after the win. "When he can get to the line, he's obviously a great foul shooter, and then also, we can get our defense set up when anybody's at the line. Those were important free throws."

As Kerr said before, having Poole as a threat at the rim is important because the Warriors have other guys who can be 3-point threats throughout the lineup. When Thompson returns, that shooting depth will only improve. 

But right now, it's even more important for Poole to attack and draw contact because it's something they haven't been getting from Curry. 

Through the last four games, Curry has gotten to the line just four times -- and they all happened in the win over the Pelicans. This shouldn't be an area of concern just yet, but it's something to monitor. And, it's something Poole can help temper until Curry works his way to the line. 

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As Poole continues to find his footing in his new role as a starter -- and even when he eventually becomes the Warriors' sixth man -- he needs to continue flexing every part of his game. 

He has the tools to be an extremely dynamic offensive player -- one that can score from anywhere on the court -- and if he relies on his attacking skills as much as he does his shooting, the up-and-down moments he has had thus far will diminish and defenses will have a hard time stopping him. 

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