Jordan Poole 'one of the best young players' in NBA, Nemanja Bjelica believes

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Bjelica: Poole 'one of the best young players' in NBA originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Jordan Poole’s outstanding performance in his first playoff game may have come as a surprise to some, but his teammates expected nothing less from the young guard.

After JP dropped 30 in the Warriors' 123-107 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 1, Nemanja Bjelica had nothing but great things to say about him.

“I’m not surprised at all because he’s one of the hardest workers on our team,” Bjelica said on “Warriors Live: Playoff Edition” on Saturday night. “He’s always in the gym. He’s such a talent. He’s in a great place, he’s just getting better.”

“Especially the last two months, when Steph was out, he took big responsibility. Now he’s our leader of the bench. He’s one of the best young players in the league.”

Poole joined some elite Warriors company on Saturday after his 30 points tied Mitch Richmond’s 30 points in 1989 for the second-most in a Warriors playoff debut in team history. Wilt Chamberlain leads that list with the 35 points he scored in 1960.

JP, who was a part of the starting lineup for Game 1 while Steph Curry came off the bench, shot an unbelievable 69.2 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the 3-point line.

A door full of opportunity opened for Poole when Steph Curry was out with a foot injury. The 22-year-old recognized the situation he was in and took full advantage of it.

After struggling to figure out his role with the Warriors during his first two seasons in the Bay, JP didn’t get discouraged. Instead, he continued to grind even harder day in and day out, and it has certainly shown in his third year in the league.

RELATED: Klay sheds light on heated Game 1 exchange with Gordon

He has led the conversation for this season’s Most Improved Player award. And when you look at where he was when he came into this league and look at him now, it’s hard to think of anyone more deserving of the accolade.

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