Jordan Poole, Juan Toscano-Anderson growth vital to Steve Kerr

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Why Kerr thinks Poole, JTA's growth down stretch vital to Dubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors learned a lot about themselves down the stretch of the 2020-21 regular season.

Steph Curry proved he can still carry a team. Draymond Green demonstrated why he remains a unique force on both ends of the court. Andrew Wiggins became the player Golden State envisioned trading for.

All of those lessons will be on the Warriors' mind as they try to return to the playoffs and, ultimately, NBA championship contention. However, none were as critical, in Steve Kerr's eyes, as the emergence of two players in Golden State's rotation.

"I think the most important developments over [the last 20 games] were Jordan Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson," Kerr said Friday on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks." "Just because to now have a couple young guys who we think for sure are part of our rotation next season, that's a really big deal. It's hard to know who's gonna develop, and who's not. When guys do -- especially the way those two guys did, just being such good fits with our team -- it's really, really important."

Poole, a first-round draft pick (No. 28 overall) in 2019, surfaced as a potential sixth man. Playing the best basketball of his career following a stint in the G League this season, Poole averaged 14.5 points over the final 20 games, shooting 42.9 percent from the field, 35.1 percent on 3-pointers and 86.2 percent on free throws during that stretch. He also played 22.6 minutes per game, which were only slightly ahead of his rookie-year average but occurred in much more critical situations.

Toscano-Anderson, meanwhile, continued his meteoric rise from Mexican League star to NBA contributor. He averaged 7.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in just under 28 minutes per night during the Warriors' last 20 regular-season games, and the East Oakland native was rewarded with an NBA contract.

Thanks in large part to Poole and Toscano-Anderson's development, Kerr believes the pieces are in place for the Warriors to make a leap next season.

"I think we've got a lot of momentum going into the offseason and into next year," Kerr continued. "We get [Klay Thompson] back. We've seen how good this team can be. We saw how good [Steph Curry] and [Draymond Green] were together, and now we've got some young guys really coming, and a couple more draft picks in the coming draft. Hopefully add a free agent or two, and we've got a chance to be really good."

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Considering where Poole and Toscano-Anderson stood on the Warriors' depth chart entering this season, growth was no guarantee. The former looked lost during his first NBA season, but the latter had yet to really settle in the league before last season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, the Warriors have two more reliable rotation players. Even though the season ended outside of the playoffs, it's hard to qualify Poole and Toscano-Anderson's development as anything other than a big win.

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