Reinforcements are on the way for the Warriors.
Well, they're actually already there.
Nico Mannion and Jordan Poole, who were recalled from the G League bubble in Orlando, arrived in Portland on Monday afternoon ahead of the Warriors' game against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Mannion and Poole's early arrival in Portland is because of testing protocols, but them being called up from the G League is to see if they could give the Warriors' struggling second unit a spark.
"It was a really valuable stretch of games for Jordan and Nico," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday on the two's time with the Santa Cruz Warriors thus far. "Both guys played really well. The team has done exceptionally well, nine (wins) in a row ... Proud of Jordan and Nico for the way they've played."
Mannion is averaging 19.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game in his nine for the Sea Dubs, while Poole has been leading Santa Cruz with 22.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists through 11 games.
Both have found strides they probably wouldn't have been able to if they had stayed with the Warriors, but now they have a chance to see if their game will translate from the G Leauge to the NBA.
And it's great timing.
The Warriors' second unit has been struggling. And backup point guard Brad Wanamaker has not lived up to expectations. Nearing the second half of the season and the trade deadline (March 25), it's time for the Warriors to see if they can find the burst they need in that position from somewhere else.
Their upcoming back-to-back games against the Blazers and Phoenix Suns is the perfect opportunity to do so. Kerr wouldn't say if Poole or Mannion would actually be in the rotation, but did say that they will see minutes here and there.
"That second game is going to be very difficult," Kerr said. "I think we get to Phoenix at 4 a.m., so I think there's a good chance with this back-to-back both guys will play at some point. But I don't know when."
Much of their roles will depend on the matchups, how the team playing, and how the bench unit is doing, particularly Wanamaker.
In Kerr's eyes, Wanamaker has been struggling because of what the Warriors are asking of him. They need Wanamaker to be a playmaker because there aren't many other guys on the bench who can do so. But the problem is that's not where Wanamaker thrives.
"The ideal role for him would be for him to play like he did the last couple of years [with the Boston Celtics], play off of guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown where he's not having to make plays," Kerr said. "With this second unit, we just haven't had enough playmaking ... And asking Brad to provide that is difficult because he's more of a guy to get you organized, which he does a good job of. But asking him to make plays and create offense, that's asking a lot of anybody. That's probably the biggest thing I see."
Through Poole's 11 games in the G League bubble, he has proven that he can be a primary ball-handler who can initiate the offense. He was one of Santa Cruz's main playmakers and has shown he can take over a game (like his 37-point and 32-point games).
"I think both Jordan and Nico, in Orlando, displayed some really good passing skills, playmaking skills," Kerr said. "Now, obviously those are G League opponents, not NBA opponents, so it's different. But both players are capable and they could very well get a shot with that second group at some point."
As Kerr said, when and where Poole and Mannion will get minutes during this two-game stretch is unclear. If the Warriors are rolling, they may not see the court. If there are garbage minutes leading to a Warriors victory or loss, we could see them there. Or, if the bench unit and Wanamaker struggle yet again, there's a chance we see them in the thick of it.
But one this is clear: this is the best opportunity for Mannion and Poole to prove they can add something to the Warriors, and that their game will translate from the G League to the majors.