- Jordan Poole has emerged as a star for the Warriors and third scoring threat.
- However, Steve Kerr said he’s had to tell Poole not to emulate Stephen Curry because it’s “dangerous.”
- Poole struggled during his first two seasons in the NBA, but has become a reliable option for the Warriors.
The Golden State Warriors are back in the Finals after a two-year absence, and the ascension of Jordan Poole is a big reason why.
The 23-year-old Poole had a breakout season in his third year in the league, averaging 18.5 points per game in the regular season. He’s kept up his scoring average in the playoffs while boosting his shooting percentages to an efficient 53% from the field and 39% from three.
Poole has an uncanny ability to score that somewhat resembles Warriors star Stephen Curry: Poole’s ability to shoot threes off the dribble forces defenses to guard him tightly on the perimeter. He uses his handle to beat that pressure, slip by defenders, and get off shots at unique angles in the paint. That scoring punch has only made the Warriors deeper and more difficult to guard, giving head coach Steve Kerr a reliable source of offense behind Curry and Klay Thompson.
However, just because Poole can score like Curry, it doesn’t mean the Warriors think he should. Kerr told The Ringer’s Logan Murdock that throughout Poole’s career, he’s had to kindly remind the 6-foot-4 shooting guard to play in a somewhat less audacious manner than the Warriors’ two-time MVP.
‘I give him little hints all the time, and things that I wouldn’t say to Steph about shot selection I will say to Jordan because Jordan hasn’t earned that yet,” Kerr told Murdock. “In his third year, his 3 -point percentage isn’t what Steph’s is. And so without trying to throw him and keep him from being himself, I’m trying to nudge toward really high percentage shot-taking rather than emulating Steph. That’s a dangerous game, emulating Steph.”
Over the years, Kerr has grown to accept Curry’s bold shot-making and even encourage it. During a Warriors media session in the 2020-21 season, Kerr told Insider that Curry is essentially allowed to shoot whenever he wants.
“Basically, Steph is allowed to shoot anytime he wants, and we encourage him to shoot as often as possible,” Kerr said. “And that’s been the case really since I’ve been here.”
Kerr added: “Obviously we don’t say that to all our players, but with Steph, you know, he’s the best shooter on the planet.”
Indeed, Poole has unlimited range and, like Curry, little reluctance to shoot.
However, Poole is a career 34% shooter from three. Curry was a career 44% three-point shooter after his first three years in the NBA.
Poole’s emergence has been particularly eye-opening because he struggled in his first two years in the NBA, spending time in the G League along the way. Over his first two seasons, Poole averaged 10.4 points on just 38% shooting. Warriors players and coaches have openly spoken about how Poole had unwavering confidence on the court, even if his production wasn’t yet matching.
Kerr told Murdock that he recognized Poole’s talent right away but didn’t necessarily see a path toward Poole becoming an impact player.
“He was just all over the map,” Kerr told Poole. “You could see he had ballhandling skills, but they needed to be tightened up. You can tell he had the talent, but what was he going to do with it? And how was he going to respond to the inevitable lumps that he was going to take? And, frankly, I had no idea at that point how he would do that.”
Now, Poole is the Warriors’ third-leading scorer, playing the fifth-most minutes during this Finals run.
Perhaps in the near future he will earn Kerr’s green light. After all, there was a time when Kerr reacted to Curry’s shots like this: