Jordan Poole will be relinquishing his starting spot when the Golden State Warriors get Klay Thompson back from his two-year absence.
As such, head coach Steve Kerr is already preparing the third-year guard for the bench role by having him come off the bench in the games leading up to Thompson’s return, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
However, Poole’s new role is in no way a demotion. He will be the key guy leading the second unit, which should provide the Warriors with a tremendous boost off the bench in the playoffs.
Poole, a 6-foot-4 off-guard, has a strong nose for scoring, averaging 17.6 points on the year in just 30.6 minutes per game, third on the team behind Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins. At just 22-years-old, Poole has laid the foundation for a solid all-around game, adding 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game – numbers that likely will increase as he develops further.
Coming off the bench, Poole will share minutes with Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr, offering Golden State robust offensive production when Curry, Wiggins and Thompson take a seat. He’ll also provide the bench with some spacing, as he’s the second-highest volume three-point shooter on the team behind Curry with 55.7% of his total shot attempts coming from long range, per Basketball-Reference.
The Warriors can afford to remove Poole’s high volume from the starting unit due to Thompson’s return, and will thus sport a starting rotation of Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, with Poole, Porter, Bjelica, Andre Iguodala, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damion Lee and Gary Payton II filling out the bench rotation. Note that bench minutes likely will get tightened when the team enters the postseason.
(James Wiseman’s status changing could change some of the above as well.)
What this set-up offers is an intriguing mix of offense and defense from both the primary and secondary rotation. Green and Wiggins are both plus defenders – Green even the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year, per FanDuel Sportsbook – and Curry is a generational offensive talent who raises the offensive floor whenever he’s out there.
From the bench, Kerr can now replicate that balance. Poole, Porter, Bjelica, Payton and Iguodala can get minutes together, offering a nice balance of defensive and offensive compromise, while also playing a brand of positionless basketball that should, in theory, outperform opposing benches nightly.
Poole’s Future not Determined by Bench Role
Some players tend to turn in worse performances after getting benched, and some find that their development is affected when pivoting from starter to bench player. For Poole, the move should serve as a stepping stone in his evolution.
As a starter, Poole was playing off of Curry, Wiggins and Green. Now coming off the bench, Poole will get a chance to entirely own that rotation and become the leader of it. He will unquestionably remain a high-minute player, meaning he will be the clear-cut first option when he’s on the floor with the aforementioned group of bench players.
This presents Poole with a strong opportunity to carve out the next few years of his career. Not only will he be put into a situation where he’s asked to create more shots, for both himself and teammates, but he’ll sharpen his leadership capabilities and prime himself to eventually return to the starting unit a more complete player.
With Curry turning 34 in March, and Thompson 32 in February, Poole won’t have to arm himself with half a decade worth of patience before his name gets called again.
What’s crucial in the meantime is communication, one of Kerr’s best attributes. If Poole is to fully embrace this new role, and everything that comes with it, Kerr has to continuously touch base with the productive youngster and make sure the full picture is being painted vividly, as to best optimize Poole’s willingness to go that route.
After all, at 22 years of age, ambition often runs high.