Why Jordan Poole struggles to find Warriors role with healthy Steph Curry
Kerr assesses JP's struggles to find role with Steph healthy originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Warriors made themselves clear when they signed rising star guard Jordan Poole to a massive new multiyear contract extension before the start of the 2022-23 NBA season that he was their future.
This season, though, he’s been their standout, Poole-Party-driven guard at times while also being their reliable sixth man off the bench. With Steph Curry and other starters battling injuries throughout the season, the Warriors have turned to Poole to take over in their place.
And while that sounds like a dream scenario for any bench player, Warriors coach Steve Kerr knows the lineup changes have been tough on Poole.
“All of this for him, just like all young players, is part of the experience of being in the NBA,” Kerr said on 95.7 The Game’s “Damon & Ratto” on Wednesday. “There’s ups and downs and there’s adversity, and we've had a ton of adversity this year. Jordan has personally had plenty of it, and it’s all about how you respond.
"The thing that makes a season like this difficult is when you've got guys in and out, and you’ve got stops and starts, it’s tough for individual players to find a comfort zone, find a certain lineup combination, certain role, certain substitution patterns because everything’s all over the place."
Curry’s latest injury, which sidelined the reigning NBA Finals MVP from February into early March, allowed Poole to put on his best Curry impression for 11 consecutive games.
During that stretch, Poole averaged 23.4 points on 40.9 percent shooting from the field and 34.7 percent from 3-point range, 6.1 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 32.4 minutes.
In the two games since Curry’s return, though, Poole’s numbers dramatically dipped. Poole is averaging 10.5 points on 30.4 percent shooting from the field and 23.5 percent from deep, 3.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 29.9 minutes.
Sure, it’s not a large sample size, but the difference is there.
“It’s tough on Jordan," Kerr continued. "It’s tough on everybody. But it’s his job and it’s everybody's job to just keep playing because it’s still the same job. You’re still going out there and playing and have to make good plays continuously on both ends.”
It probably doesn't help that as a team, the Warriors haven't been consistent all season. The closest thing to consistency came during Curry's latest hiatus, in which the Warriors won five straight. Upon Curry's return, Golden State's winning streak was snapped.
Poole might be confused, but if there's one thing Kerr is sure about, it's how the sky is the limit for the young guard.
“Part of coaching is having individual conversations with your players all the time,” Kerr said. “So I’m touching base with all of our guys. And Jordan is definitely one of them as a young player who is really talented and has had a lot of success but also has a lot of growth ahead of him, which is one of the things that’s exciting about JP and where he may be a few years from now."
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The Warriors (34-32) dropped to 7-25 on the road and face their pesky rival, the Memphis Grizzlies (38-26) on Thursday night at FedExForum. Whether he's starting or coming off the bench, the Warriors will need Poole to bring the heat Thursday in Memphis and during the final stretch of the season.
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