Warriors

Kerr's confidence in Poole sky-high as Warriors beat Blazers

Warriors

Jordan Poole always has had confidence. And over the last year, he's gotten others to buy into his self-confidence.

Last week, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said that he's never been more confident in Poole and that the third-year player was going to be a huge part of the franchise moving forward. 

Monday night's preseason game gave a sample as to why Kerr feels that way and why Poole's confidence is warranted. It backed up Kerr's decision to start Poole in the first preseason game of the year and gave a glimpse into who the 6-foot-3 guard can be for this team moving forward.

Poole scored 30 points in 22 minutes on 10-of-17 shooting, including seven 3-pointers -- many of which were several feet behind the line -- in the Warriors' 121-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. 

"This is what he’s looked like in camp," Kerr said. "Not hesitating, he’s getting to the rim, playing with an unbelievable confidence ... He’s earned that confidence."

The most obvious evidence to support Kerr's statement about never having trusted Poole more is his shooting. With Thompson out for at least a few more months, the Warriors are in dire need of more shooting, floor stretching and someone to take advantage of the space Steph Curry creates. 

Poole can shoot the lights out. Several of the threes he took, and made, against the Trail Blazers were from 28 feet out, at least. When he catches fire, it's reminiscent of Thompson -- and that's what the Warriors need. It's an attribute the Warriors know can work alongside Curry on the floor, or in place of Curry when he needs rest.

 

Kerr says he's given Poole the green light to shoot from nearly anywhere, something that's only granted to a few players. 

"Coach just gives us the opportunity to do what we practice," Poole said. "And they wanted me to be aggressive. Coach wants me to go out there and if I'm open, shoot it. He kind of let me know that last year. It's just taking the momentum I had last year and expanding my range a little bit."

But Poole's offensive game doesn't stop there. He's continuing to develop into a good driver and gets shots up off the dribble. Labeled as one of -- if not the -- biggest workhorses on the team, Poole won't stop until it's a reliable weapon in his arsenal.

Just last year, Poole went from a struggling rookie to someone who successfully filled in for Curry while he was out with an injury. He had a tremendous month of March, averaging 18.5 points on 49 percent shooting over 11 games. He finished the final nine regular-season games averaging 17.8 points on 49 percent shooting and in the play-in games, he was depended on in crunch time.

Because of his work ethic, the Warriors knew Poole was going to take another leap this season. He wasn't going to allow himself to slide backward.

RELATED: What we learned as Poole leads Warriors to preseason win

The question was just how big of a leap would he make?

Would it be just enough to cement him as an obvious sixth man? A starting shooting guard until Klay Thompson comes back? Or could he start to knock on the door as a rising star?

If Monday's preseason performance has anything to say about it, the answer is "yes" to all three. But that's all on offense. 

For Poole, the next big step he has to take is on defense. 

"I told him after, what we’ve got to see next is the defensive effort," Kerr said. "He gave up a couple of back cuts for layups, made a couple of mistakes in rotation. And that’s just his next step in becoming a great player."

"He’s one of our best players," Kerr continued. "I think what we have to determine is how he holds up defensively with the different lineups he’s playing with. But you got a guy that explosive, you go to get him on the floor."

His explosive scoring is one thing, but if Poole can add reliable defense to his bag of tricks and become a two-way player, then even after Thompson comes back, it'll be hard to keep Poole off the floor for long.

Poole says there's a mutual agreement between him and Kerr to improve his defense. Poole is well aware of the opportunities he will continue to get if he can be better on that side of the ball.

 

But in the meantime, expect the Warriors to figure out how to exist with Poole consistently on the floor until he figures it out.

As Kerr said, Poole has earned the rights to his confidence, and in turn, the rights to a large minute load. Poole can back it up, and then some. 

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast