When the Warriors sent Jordan Poole to the G League bubble in the first half of the NBA season, they did so hoping the 21-year-old guard could gain valuable experience that would help them when he came back to the team.
Since his return, it appears the 2019 first-rounder accomplished exactly that.
Poole shined in the Warriors' sound 108-94 win over the lowly Houston Rockets on Wednesday, posting a game-high 23 points over 24 minutes. Since being recalled from the Orlando, Fla., bubble, the Michigan product is averaging 18 points per game, with a 55.3 field goal percentage and a 42.3 percentage from 3-point land.
His play has caught the eyes of many, especially coach Steve Kerr.
"He's a different guy," Kerr said on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" on Thursday. "There is definitely a huge difference in his play, his comfort level, confidence.
"The thing that I love is that he's earned this confidence, this comfort level. He's been in the gym pretty much every day since the pandemic began a year ago. He really understood what was at stake and how hard he had to work, and he put the work in, and the results here are really showing. Very happy for him and happy for us."
Poole's impressive play even rubbed off on his teammates, with Draymond Green noting the young guard's confidence as well.
“Confidence. It’s all confidence,” Green said after Wednesday's win. "He’s shooting the ball with a lot of confidence. He’s making quick decisions. And he’s ... just overall better.”
Poole's rise couldn't come at a more opportune time for the Warriors. Golden State is expected to be without Steph Curry and Kelly Oubre Jr. for both games during their upcoming back-to-back road series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Curry is doubtful for the games after suffering a tailbone contusion in the third quarter Wednesday, while Oubre Jr. is dealing with a sore foot.
Poole, along with Nico Mannion and Brad Wanamaker, will have to step up in two critical games for the Warriors. Kerr noted he doesn't know who will start in place of Curry if the two-time NBA MVP is officially ruled out, but said the aforementioned trio should see plenty of action regardless.
"You'll definitely see all three of them," Kerr said. "It's just a question of how we want to start and the combinations we want to see off the bench."
Chances are Poole is the likely frontrunner. His versatile offensive skillset, along with the ability to create his own shots, has given him an edge during each offensive possession he's on the hardwood.
Poole is both an offensive threat and a playmaker. He can drive to the rim, dish out to his teammates or shoot from pretty much anywhere beyond the arc.
With two starters probably out Friday, the Warriors will need Poole to continue exactly what he has been doing, and it seems Kerr believes that's reasonable to expect.