Warriors

Warriors working to make rookie Jordan Poole more than just a scorer

Warriors working to make rookie Jordan Poole more than just a scorer

The Warriors selected Jordan Poole in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft in part for his offensive confidence.

During the onset of the preseason, Poole has rewarded those hopes, making 48 percent of his shots through his first two games. 

In Monday's 104-98 loss to the Lakers, however, he momentarily regressed, going just 3-for-14 from the field, offering an early lesson for the rookie: Find other ways to make an impact when your shot isn't falling. 

"Jordan is young and coming off two really good games," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said late Monday evening. "So this is inevitable, this is how it goes."

Poole missed his first six shots and committed five turnovers. Worse, he missed defensive assignments, which was put on display when he tripped over Lakers guard Zach Norvell Jr, falling as the guard made a shot, much to the delight of the Lakers bench. 

Throughout his basketball life, Poole has displayed unwavering confidence in his shot. Over a year ago, he made a buzzer-beater to send the Michigan Wolverines to the 2018 Sweet 16. But through his first two games with Golden State, the staff is hoping to make Poole more than a scorer.

"I think tonight is a really good tape to show Jordan because he struggled with some of the physicality," Kerr said. "And I think some of the decision making defensively. He was slow to react on rotations." 

For his part, Poole has bought into Golden State's plan. Last week against the Timberwolves, he was active. Four minutes into the second quarter, he barked out orders to D'Angelo Russell to switch onto his man before stripping forward Naz Reid. A minute later, guarding Jaylen Nowell, he shuffled his feet and blocked the shot out of bounds. 

Poole is trying to change a longstanding narrative about himself. While he led the Wolverines in scoring last season, his defensive attention was maligned, leading to a reputation he's looking to shake. 

"A narrative gets put out and that's kind of what you get labeled as," Poole told NBC Sports last week. "But you can always work on defense ... I'm just gonna to continue work on it day in and day out. I feel like I know I can score the ball and I'm really good on offense and be able to lock up on the perimete.

"I feel like that will take me to the next level."

As Monday's game drew to a close, Poole began to showed why Golden State remains intrigued in his game. Two minutes into the third quarter --- despite his poor start -- he calmly drained a 3-pointer off an assist from Steph Curry. A minute later, he took another pass from Curry and made a mid-range jumper to bring Golden State within six points. With three minutes left in the game, he made another 3-pointer to cut the Lakers' lead to three, displaying the confidence his teammates have encouraged throughout training camp. 

"When you have [D'Angelo Russell] and Steph [Curry] and Draymond [Green], Klay [Thompson], Jacob [Evans III], everybody telling you to shoot the ball, that you're here because you can score. Shoot," Poole said following the preseason opener Oct. 5. "I think it's simple. Obviously, take smart ones, but if you're open, don't hesitate." 

[RELATED: Steph Curry's leadership on display for Warriors]

Still, with Poole's evolution, the coaching staff hopes he can continue to grow an all-around game. 

"Typical rookie stuff," Kerr said. "And we'll show him but really it's all good stuff and it'll help him get better."

Sources: Warriors plan to send first-round pick Jordan Poole to G League

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AP

Sources: Warriors plan to send first-round pick Jordan Poole to G League

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Warriors send Jordan Poole to G League Santa Cruz, and that definitely is in the works, the move will not be a surprise.

Nor should the decision be considered punitive.

Rather, it will be a major step in the process to help the rookie shooting guard rediscover his game.

Poole’s trip to the Santa Cruz Warriors could come as early as this week, according to multiple league sources, but several other factors are influencing the timing.

The Warriors, for one, are considering the future of two-way point guard Ky Bowman, who has played well but is up to 30 days of NBA service. Another 15 days and the Warriors either waive Bowman, hand him a standard NBA contract or send him back to Santa Cruz. One way to extend his time with the franchise is to send him to the G League. Such a move is more likely with the return of point guard Jacob Evans III on Monday night.

The Warriors are disinclined to send both Poole and Lee to Santa Cruz. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but they’d much prefer to avoid it.

The second consideration involves shooting guard Damion Lee, the team’s other two-way player. Largely because he has missed the last four weeks, he still has 31 days of NBA service remaining. Initially listed as probable (generally considered a 75-percent chance of playing) Monday afternoon, Lee was downgraded to “out” two hours before tipoff.

Insofar as Lee plays the same position as Poole, Lee’s return could trigger Poole’s journey 90 minutes south of San Francisco.

The Warriors, according to multiple team sources, already have decided to meet with Poole before laying out the plan for once he arrives in Santa Cruz. He crept closer toward that direction Monday night when he received his first DNP-CD of the season as the Warriors fell, 110-102, to the Grizzlies.

The move is a response to Poole failing to find any shooting rhythm, the aspect of his game that was unquestioned when the Warriors selected him in the first round, No. 30 overall, last June. He’s shooting 25.8 percent from the field, including 24.5 percent beyond the arc.

Those numbers surely played a part in Poole exhibiting some shooting uncertainty, even mimicking reluctance, that bespeaks low confidence. The result is a shot without touch and, often, an outright brick.

The Warriors are certain Poole is better than what he has shown. Poole, 20, also realizes he needs to be better. He’s a natural scorer, with a natural stroke that suddenly looks unnatural.

The Warriors realized weeks ago that Poole could benefit from the kind of shooting rehab that can only happen in the G League. But injuries -- five guards were on the injured list most of last month -- left them in no position to be without any healthy player.

[RELATED: How GRIII's life was shaped by his parents’ different paths]

One of the three injured guards, D’Angelo Russell, returned last week. Evans III returned Monday night. A third, Lee, is expected back this week.

With that level of depth, the Warriors can give Poole the opportunity to get regular minutes in the G League and maybe rebuild the confidence he insists he hasn’t lost despite statistics showing otherwise. A place where microscopes won’t follow is the smart move, and Santa Cruz is perfect for a talented scorer in search of his gift.

The Warriors drafted Poole largely because of his ability to score. Playing in a democratic offensive system under John Beilein at Michigan, Poole didn’t put up massive numbers. But he knew how to get buckets.

Even though taking Poole in the first round was perceived by many around the league as a “reach,” the general belief was that his shooting was NBA-ready.

That has not been the case. The numbers don’t lie. The general belief now, at least among the Warriors, is that it’s past time to see if Poole can find his bearings in the G League and return to the NBA and actually be the shooter he’s expected to be.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-102 dud loss vs. Grizzlies

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-102 dud loss vs. Grizzlies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors entered Chase Center on Monday seeking the modest goal of winning consecutive games for the first time this season.

They failed, with a hail of missed shots and a flurry of turnovers sending them to a 110-102 loss to a Grizzlies team that had lost nine of its last 10 games.

The Warriors fell behind early, briefly went ahead in the third quarter and spent the fourth quarter trying to mount a comeback they couldn’t quite complete.

Here are three takeaways from a game in which the Warriors shot 37.6 percent and were picked apart on defense in the second half:

Morant routs Paschall in battle of rookies

Each team came into the game with a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, forward Eric Paschall for the Warriors and guard Ja Morant for the Grizzlies.

Morant, who had missed the last four games with back spasms, was better on this night and it was not close.

Paschall scored only five points, 12 below his average, while shooting 2-of-10 from the field and 0-of-2 from beyond the arc. He grabbed two rebounds and finished minus-14 over 22 minutes.

Morant practically willed the Grizzlies to victory, scoring 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep and 7-of-8 from the line. He added seven assists and two rebounds, playing 29 minutes.

Morant made a couple dazzling plays, including a soaring dunk to give Memphis a 108-100 lead with 1:19 to play, effectively closing out the Warriors.

Draymond cranks up the offense

Though Draymond Green’s reputation for being a highly-effective defender lives on, he often is subjected to critiques about his scoring ability.

It’s not that he can’t. It’s that he usually doesn’t and hasn’t had to -- until now.

Presumably taking note of the team’s scoring challenges, Green immediately turned up his aggression on offense, scoring a team-high 14 first-half points in 16 minutes. Green, along with veteran guard Alec Burks (11 points), kept the offense from falling flat in the first half.

Green totaled 16 points, tying a season-high, shooting 6-of-13 from the field and 1-of-3 from deep.

The Warriors are a different team when Green is a scoring threat. It appears he is attempting to better establish that on a roster that needs it.

[RELATED: Draymond has ambitious plan for Warriors rookie Paschall]

Oh, those turnovers

Coach Steve Kerr hasn’t done much ranting about turnovers, a subject he often harped on over the last five seasons. Perhaps because of the youth and relative shared inexperience of his roster.

That’s about to change.

The turnovers are becoming almost routine. After rarely coming close to the 20-turnover mark in the first 20 games, the Warriors are averaging 19.0 over the last five. They committed 15 Monday night.

Worst of all, most of the turnovers were of the live-ball variety. The Grizzlies turned those 15 turnovers into 22 points.

That’s what stings most of all, seeing those giveaways turn into easy points the other way. The Warriors’ last five opponents, including Memphis, averaged 21.0 points off turnovers.