How Warriors' Jordan Poole is shooting way out of rookie-year slump

Logan Murdock

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jordan Poole found himself in unfamiliar territory Tuesday night. 

Eight minutes into the third quarter, the Warriors' rookie guard received a pass from Draymond Green on the wing and drained a 3-pointer as he was fouled. In the commotion, Poole looked toward teammate Glenn Robinson and counted to four, mimicking Steph Curry's celebration. 

The play epitomized Poole's current stretch. Following his 17-point performance in Tuesday's 124-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, he's shooting 43 percent from 3-point range over his last two games. He's momentarily erasing his shooting woes, exuding confidence along the way while following familiar advice. 

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"Coach Mike Brown just told me if I'm open shoot it," Poole said Tuesday. "I'm getting more opportunities, and I feel comfortable."

Poole's comfort has shown as of late. Over his last two games, he's averaging 15 points and he has made 43 percent of his 3-pointers. 

His current stretch stands in stark contrast to the beginning of his rookie season. Through the first 29 games of the season, Poole made just 25.4 percent of his shots. The Warriors sent Poole to the G League to bust out of his extended slump and the plan worked, as Poole averaged nearly 26 points in three games with the Santa Cruz Warriors.

On Tuesday, he displayed the growth in his game. Nearly 10 minutes into the first quarter, he hit calmly hit a 3-pointer at the top of the key to cut Dallas' lead to seven. A minute later, he secured a screen from Willie Cauley-Stein and hit a runner in the lane to keep the Warriors within 11 points. h

Poole scored eight of his 17 points in the first half, nailing two 3-pointers and playing as his coach has envisioned since the start of the season.

"He just looks freer," Kerr said. "He had been pressing there for a while. In the last couple of games, he looks like he did at the beginning of the season. Just playing pretty loose and free, knocking down some shots like he's enjoying himself out there, so good to see the ball go in the hole for him." 

As Poole struggled, his teammates encouraged. During Friday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers -- in the midst of a 2-for-7 performance -- Klay Thompson inspired him from the bench.

"All of them look good," he said, "Just keep shooting."

As Thompson encouraged Poole, Curry followed suit. When asked about his shooting slump, the rookie would look towards Curry's vacant locker and boast that even the greatest shooter in the world has a slump, using the comparison as motivation.  

"A countless number of times when you have the two greatest shooters in NBA history telling you to shoot the ball, I don't think that that's normal so just being able to embrace that," Poole said. "That gives you a different sense of urgency and appreciation."

While his coach notices a change in his play, Poole doesn't see a change in his mindset. Two months ago, when asked about his poor shooting, the rookie quickly dismissed any notion of stopping. 

"Doing that got me here," he said at the time. "Why would I change?"

Following Tuesday's game, he offered similar reasoning.  

"I don't think my confidence is a thing," he said. "I feel like my confidence has been the same. it's just an opportunity being opened. I don't think confidence has been a thing. I've just continued to do the same things that I've been doing. I haven't changed anything since the beginning of the season."

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While Poole's approach hasn't changed, his results have. That was only a matter of time, according to Kerr. 

"I think is all part of his rookie season for anybody," Kerr said. "The ups the downs, and he's getting better."

How Warriors' Jordan Poole is shooting way out of rookie-year slump originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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