When Warriors head coach Steve Kerr sent Jordan Poole, Nico Mannion and Alen Smailagic to the G League bubble in Orlando, Fla., the primary objective was for the trio to get comfortable in game action and garner as much experience as possible.
Poole seems to be adjusting to that just fine, and is tacking on some stellar offensive performances to boot.
Such was the case Thursday afternoon in the Santa Cruz Warriors' huge 113-109 comeback win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Fort Wayne led the game up until midway through the final quarter, but thanks to a 37-point performance from Poole, Santa Cruz was able to escape with a last-minute victory.
Poole's break-out game showcased all of the traits the Warriors are high on when it comes to the 21-year-old. He varied from deep 3-point shots to gritty finishes in the key, while dishing out some dazzling passes.
His game-high 37 points came on 12-of-21 shooting and 4-of-9 from 3-point range. Poole tacked on five rebounds and three assists while committing three turnovers.
He capped off his big game by proving clutch with time winding down, sinking two free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining in the game to seal the win for the Warriors.
He also earned some G League bragging rights in the process.
Thursday's effort was exactly what Poole, a former Michigan product whom Golden State selected with its first-round pick last year, needed to display as he aims to gain more regular playing time with the Warriors after the conclusion of the G League season. In his rookie season last year, Poole appeared in 57 games for the Warriors, and started in 14. He averaged 8.8 points and 2.4 assists over 22.4 minutes per game.
He saw time in 15 games for the Warriors this season, posting 5.5 points over 9.5 minutes per game.
For now though, he'll continue to work on gaining reps in the Orlando bubble in hopes of returning soon to the NBA hardwood.
Mannion, Smailagic and Jeremy Lin will hope that as well. Lin followed up Poole's noteworthy game with a formidable outing himself. The 32-year-old dropped 27 points and added six boards, four assists and two steals as the former NBA champion works to mount a comeback to the NBA. Smailagic added eight points and four rebounds in just under 12 minutes in his second G League game. Mannion offered up just five points, but he also did this, which is impressive enough.
Regardless, Kerr will continue to monitor his young trio in the bubble, and make sure they are gaining as much experience as possible. Poole certainly accomplished that feat Thursday.