Despite being the reigning champions and the league’s most contemporary version of a dynasty, the Golden State Warriors also lay claim to one of the best young cores of talent in the NBA.
Leading the pack of Dubs who are slowly ushering in a youth movement in the Bay Area is star guard Jordan Poole, who had a breakout season in 2021-22 at the age of 23. Poole has outperformed expectations after Golden State selected him with the 28th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Poole appeared in 76 regular season games for the Warriors last year, earning 51 starts and 30 minutes of court time per night. He was paramount to the team’s offensive attack in the absence of Klay Thompson for the first 39 games of the year and the sidelining of Steph Curry for the final 12 contests. Poole averaged 18.5 points, four assists, and 3.4 rebounds per contest, according to Basketball Reference.
Poole was played off the floor in some instances during the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, playing just under 21 minutes and scoring 13.2 points per night across the six-game series. However, Boston was a particularly challenging matchup for Poole, who played between 28 and 33 minutes per game during each of the Warriors’ previous three playoff series and averaged between 16 and 21 points, according to statistics provided by ESPN.
Given Poole’s third-year leap, an offensive game that borders on All-Star potential and his newly-acquired status of NBA champion, Poole is in line for a nine-figure contract extension next summer and was recently named by Bleacher Report as one of the league’s “best future prospects.”
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Poole Named Dubs’ Best Young Prospect, Ahead of James Wiseman
Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report on Friday, August 12, listed the NBA’s best future prospects by team.
According to Swartz, Poole stands atop that list for the Dubs, followed by former No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman and former No. 7 overall pick Jonathan Kuminga. Swartz laid out his rationale as follows:
Not only is it unfair that the Warriors have this rich of a young talent pool and still won the NBA title, but a prospect as good as Moses Moody not making the top three here is borderline cruel for the rest of the league.
Poole has worked his way into becoming a major offensive threat, whether it’s as a primary ball-handler, spot-up shooter or cutter looking for passes from Draymond Green or Stephen Curry.
We got to see Wiseman at Summer League after he missed the entire 2021-22 season, and he reminded us all of his incredible size and athleticism while averaging 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in just 19.9 minutes. If Wiseman can stay healthy this season, he can thrive as a defensive force and as-needed go-to scorer on offense.
Kuminga is already one of the most athletic players in the NBA who should see more minutes with Otto Porter Jr. leaving for the Toronto Raptors. He’s coming off a 19.3 point-per-game Summer League performance and carries elite two-way potential as a multi-positional defender.
Golden State May Face Tough Decision on Poole Next Offseason
The Dubs are running it back with the core of their title team from 2021-22, but it doesn’t appear likely that they will be able to do the same the following year.
Poole and two-way forward Andrew Wiggins are each playing on the final year of their current deals, and both are expected to command multiyear extensions well beyond $100 million in total next offseason. Green can also opt out of his deal next summer and try to command a maximum extension, which he has already announced publicly is his desire.
Thompson remains under contract for a couple more seasons, making his situation less urgent, while Curry is locked up for $215 million over the next four years.
The Warriors have noted they will try to bring everyone back, but that would likely require at least three of the four of Poole, Wiggins, Green and Thompson to take meaningful discounts — wishful thinking to say the least.
Under a scenario in which the Dubs are forced to part with one of the four, Poole is among the most likely. Green probably offers the highest risk of diminishing returns considering his age and skill set, but he’s a made man in Golden State and getting rid of him would prove impactful in several places beyond the stat sheet.
Wiggins was not drafted by the Warriors and is almost certainly going to seek an overpay on his next contract, but his defense and rebounding were crucial to the Dubs’ title run. Then there’s Thompson, who is the second half of the franchise’s famed Splash Brothers duo.
Considering all the mitigating circumstances, the young offensive juggernaut Poole could easily end up the odd man out.
“I’d watch out for the Magic to be ready to make an offer if he’s restricted, knowing there’s a good chance Golden State is not going to match,” an Eastern Conference executive told Deveney.
Even without Poole, the young talent in Golden State looks promising for the years ahead. But with him, there’s a chance the Warriors’ reign at the top of the NBA could be extended another 10 years beyond what has already been almost a full decade of dominance — with no immediate signs of slowing down looming on the horizon.