SAN FRANCISCO -- Near the end of the Warriors' 104-94 win over a depleted Portland Trail Blazers team on Wednesday night, two big performances flashed across the jumbotron at Chase Center. It wasn't Steph Curry's 22 points or even Otto Porter Jr.'s 15 off the bench. Actually, the stats belonged to two players who weren't even in San Francisco.
Juan Toscano-Anderson and Gary Payton II are just two players on Golden State's roster who understand the importance of the G League. That's why when Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga's big showing for the Santa Cruz Warriors was highlighted, Toscano-Anderson immediately started clapping and Payton waved his towel during a timeout.
As Toscano-Anderson and Payton pave important roles for the Warriors, nobody knows what getting hot in the G League can do for a player's confidence quite like shooting guard Jordan Poole.
Poole now is averaging 18 points per game in his third season as a pro. However, before he was sent to the G League last season, he was averaging only 5.5 points per game in his second year with the Warriors. After he returned to Golden State, he averaged 14.7 points while shooting 35.4 percent from 3-point range over his final 36 games of the season.
"It's huge, just being able to play your game," Poole, who scored 20 points against Portland, said.
Kuminga and Moody, the Warriors' two lottery picks from the 2021 NBA Draft, combined for 62 points in Santa Cruz's 122-121 win against the Agua Caliente Clippers. Kuminga scored 25 points while going 11-for-22 from the field, and Moody put up 37 points as he went 12-for-28. Moody also grabbed 10 rebounds and made five 3-pointers.
"I'm more so proud that he took 28 shots," Poole said of Moody. "I've never took 28 shots before. There's a lot of people who haven't took 28 shots, but that's huge. He's down there and he's being aggressive and he's taking the shots that he practices.
"And same thing with [Jonathan Kuminga]. I want to say he had 25. Being able to have those guys go and just take care of business individually and as a team find ways to get better, it's huge. It's huge because they're going to continue to get better. They're getting live reps, a lot of touches. Shout out Moses, shout out JK and we can't wait to have them back."
Moody and Kuminga will play again Thursday night with Santa Cruz before the Warriors do indeed get the two rookies back. Coach Steve Kerr said after the win that both players will be with Golden State on the upcoming five-game road trip that begins Friday in Philadelphia.
Kerr too was more than happy to see what the young duo did in Ontario.
"I'm thrilled that [Moody] and [Kuminga] are playing and getting good reps and good minutes in Santa Cruz," Kerr said. "That's exactly what they need right now. There's a reason they were both lottery picks, they are both very talented players."
Kuminga opened a lot of eyes Monday night in the Warriors' blowout win vs. the Orlando Magic when he played the entire fourth quarter and scored nine points -- plus grabbed three rebounds -- in 12 minutes. Moody, though, has gone a bit more under the radar. He has appeared in 16 games for the Warriors this season but has averaged only 5.8 minutes and 1.6 points in a small amount of action.
Clearly, Poole and Kerr know the talent is there for the Arkansas product.
"Well, he's a great shooter and he's shown that in our practices," Kerr said. "We know about his shooting touch."
And if all goes right, many more will soon know about his impressive shooting ability on a much bigger stage.