Steph Curry knows how important Jordan Poole is to the Warriors' success this season, especially when Curry is on the bench.
At the end of last season and in the preseason, it appeared Poole was ready to take on that responsibility. Poole played his role perfectly in the Warriors' season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers, but his play has tailed off over the last four games. Through five games, Poole is shooting just 22.6 percent from 3-point range (7-for-31) and has committed 18 turnovers to just 20 assists.
Six of those turnovers came Thursday in the Warriors' 104-101 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at Chase Center. The Warriors turned the ball over 23 times as a team and were minus-15 in the 12 minutes Curry was off the floor. Poole scored just nine points on 4-for-9 shooting against the Grizzlies, including missing both attempts from 3-point range.
After the loss, Curry spoke on Poole's struggles, offering the 22-year-old support and some advice.
"Always having a lot of conversations, a lot of feedback back and forth on what it means to be consistent every night," Curry said after the game. "For him, he wants it really bad. He wants to be great in this league. You can see it. But it takes time, and for him, it's understanding that you don't have to press every night, especially when you're on other teams' scouting reports and they are going to try to take you away from your patterns and sweet spots.
"And especially when he's out there with the second unit. He's the featured guy so he's going to see a lot more attention. It's just about not forcing anything and understanding that the game is going to come because he is super talented and has all the skill set in the world to put the ball in the basket, play make. He sees the court really well. You just can't press.
"Usually that starts between the ears and just having a vision with what you are trying to do every night, not worrying about the end result like it has to be a certain stat line. It's just you know you play well and you impact the game and he'll figure that out."
The Warriors will be patient with Poole. They know he is the key to the second unit, at least until Klay Thompson returns.
Coach Steve Kerr took some of the blame for the second unit's struggles, noting he believes he has to be more rigid with the sets that group runs.
“Probably get into more calls. We got into some random situations too often. Maybe we need to control the tempo," Kerr said after the loss. "We obviously don’t have a true point guard out there on the second unit. Jordan is more of a scoring guard, which is one of the reasons we like to play Andre out there with him, to help him manage the game.
“But I think we need to examine what we’re running with that group and what we can do to settle them down. We’re too scattered. We’ve always been a team that thrives in chaos, but we’re a little too chaotic right now. I think we need to settle down and trust the next guy can make a play. We have a lot of good passers and shooters.”
The Warriors should be pleased with where they are through five games, but they have a long way to go. They have to cut down on the turnovers, do better at not getting bludgeoned in the non-Curry minutes and give the two-time MVP more support, especially on nights when he scored 36 points as he did Thursday.
It starts with Poole being the consistent scorer and second-unit leader Golden State envisioned coming into the season. Curry has faith in the young guard and undoubtedly knows the Warriors won't reach their ceiling with the best version of Poole arriving at some point this season.