Warriors

Why Poole's recall is best chance to solidify Warriors future

Warriors
Warriors' Jordan Poole

Jordan Poole's recall from the G League bubble to the Warriors won't be his last chance to seize a role with Golden State, but it just might be his best one.

The 21-year-old, whom the Warriors drafted No. 28 overall in 2019, likely has never been more confident, as he entered Monday as the G League's second-leading scorer (22.4 points per game on 45.1 percent shooting). Nor has he had an opportunity quite like this one, with the Warriors' second unit practically crying out for play-making and scoring as they try to climb in the Western Conference standings.

Poole isn't playing out the string in a lottery-bound season, nor is he being thrown to the wolves as a wide-eyed rookie. The guard can provide a necessary spark off the bench as the Warriors have suddenly started searching for one.

Golden State signed veteran point guard Brad Wanamaker to be Steph Curry's primary backup this offseason, largely with defense in mind. Wanamaker has been a solid defender this season, and the Warriors' 104.7 defensive rating in his 570 minutes is only behind Kent Bazemore (100.8) and Juan Toscano-Anderson (104.1) among the Warriors who've played at least 200 minutes this season.

On the other hand, Warriors' 104.0 offensive rating with Wanamaker on the court is second-worst among that group, with Golden State only posting a lower offensive rating in James Wiseman's 495 minutes (102.1). Wanamaker himself is shooting a career-worst 35.5 percent from the field and 22.2 percent on 3-pointers, averaging just 4.8 points per game.

Poole has only made 31.9 percent of his triples between the G League and NBA, and his G League assist-to-turnover ratio (0.82) is a far cry from Wanamaker's (2.71) this season. But Poole is capable of giving the Warriors' second unit a different look as the primary ball-handler.

 

The Warriors' bench averaged 36.7 points per game in February, good enough for 11th in the league. Yet that was nearly three fewer points per game than January (39.6), and although the bench posted a collective net rating (1.3) that was nearly two points per 100 possessions worse than the previous month (3.2). With two games -- on a back-to-back, no less -- remaining before the All-Star break, now could be just the right time for coach Steve Kerr to see what a not-new-yet-still-improved Poole can bring to the second unit.

RELATED: Seven things we learned in Warriors' up-and-down February

Golden State president of basketball operations and general manager Bob Myers said last month Poole's scoring and play-making are skills that are hard to find, and the guard has a unique chance to show the Warriors how valuable his are. Poole is the only reserve guard with a fully guaranteed contract for next season, and he can make a strong case for a higher place in the pecking order when Klay Thompson returns in 2021-22 and Golden State's expectations rise accordingly.

In the meantime, the Warriors could use Poole off the bench right now. He can help Golden State solidify itself as a playoff contender while solidifying his future. Poole's first two seasons with the Warriors have been characterized by slow progress, and he has a real chance to speed up his development.

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