On the day after the Warriors selected Jordan Poole in the first round of the 2019 NBA draft, there were hints that he was a project. He turned 20 two days earlier, had a thin physique, and general manager Bob Myers urged everyone to give him time to grow.
“It really matters what they look like a year or two, or three years, from now than what they look like in two weeks or a month,” Myers said that day in June 2019. “They’re all different. They’ll all grow at different rates. I just hope they all end up in a good place.”
Myers was speaking not only of Poole but also of fellow 2019 draftees Eric Paschall and Alen Smailagic.
Now, 19 months later, Paschall is in the rotation and the Warriors have decided to send Poole and Smailagic, along with 2020 second-round draft pick Nico Mannion, to the G League bubble outside Orlando next week. They’re expected to be there awhile.
Of the three, Poole is the one with a first-round pedigree. He is scheduled to get time, roughly one month, and space to prove he belongs in the NBA. He’s expected to play heavy minutes at shooting guard.
“I’m excited,” Poole said Saturday after shootaround, a little more than six hours before tipoff of Warriors-Pistons at Chase Center. “It’s an amazing opportunity. I get to play some games. I’m looking forward to it.”
This is Poole’s second opportunity to star in the G League. After a poor start last season, during which his projected best asset – shooting – did not materialize, he spent three games last January with the Santa Cruz Warriors, averaging 35 minutes a game. Moreover, he shot 46.3 percent from the field, including 42.3 percent from distance.
Upon returning to the NBA, he showed some slight improvement, most notably playing point guard. But any momentum he might have built disappeared when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the league.
Poole has appeared in 14 of Golden State’s 19 games this season. Since playing a total of 34 minutes in the first three weeks of the month, he has played 28 in the last four games, three of which were blowouts. He is better than last season, but not enough to crack the rotation.
The purpose of going to the bubble is to give Poole enough playing time to find a rhythm on offense. The Warriors drafted him mostly for his scoring ability, but his college success has not translated to the NBA.
“I get to play games, and that’s always exciting. I get to get up and down, get a little bit of game burn,” he said. “We’ll see when I come back, or however long I’m down there what the situation is.
“I’m just really looking forward to playing, getting on the court and playing against some other people.”