Insider Names Warriors Guard as Top ‘Breakout Candidate’ for 2021

Jordan Poole

Getty Jordan Poole drives in a game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Midway through the 2020-21 season, it looked as if guard Jordan Poole would be lucky to crack the Golden State Warriors rotation at some point that year.

Things have changed dramatically in the months that followed, with an insider now predicting that he could be a top breakout candidate for the coming season.

Last year, the 22-year-old had been sent to the G League Santa Cruz Warriors to hone his game but failed to stand out during his time there, struggling with turnovers and inconsistent play. But something clicked with Poole returned to Golden State, as he showed off a deft scoring touch that led him to become the top scorer with the second unit and eventual fill-in for an injured Steph Curry in the starting lineup. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie now predicts that Poole’s upward trajectory could continue this year.

Poole on the Verge

As Vecenie wrote, Poole “looked lost” through much of his rookie season with the Warriors, losing the confidence that helped him shoot up the NBA draft board to the back end of the first round. He ultimately put the disappointing season behind him and worked on his shortcomings, putting in a lot of work that offseason.

While many started taking notice of Poole after his return from the G League last season, Vecenie said the roots were planted earlier than that.

“Something completely shifted following the offseason of his rookie campaign. People point to his stint in the G League bubble as the turning point, and it may have been the moment where he finally altered the Warriors’ loftiest projections into production,” he wrote. “However, sources around Poole note that he was in the gym tirelessly after his rookie season and in the lead-up to his sophomore year. He improved as much as anyone possibly could have in a shortened offseason and regained the confidence that made him one of the more aggressive shot hunters in college hoops as a sophomore.”

Vecenie wrote that Poole keeps getting better. Pegging him as one of the league’s breakout candidates, the insider predicted that Poole would average more than 17 points per game and becoming a major building block for a team that could contend for a title.

Others Predict Huge Season

There are others taking notice of Poole’s play and predicting a big year ahead for him. Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey wrote that Poole could have been the MVP of the NBA preseason, and could be a strong fit for the Warriors’ starting lineup. He noted Poole looked like a good fit playing alongside Curry, pointing out that the Warriors were plus-18.2 points per 100 possessions when both were on the floor together.

“He wasn’t on Klay Thompson’s level as an off-ball mover, catch-and-shoot threat or on-ball defender, but Poole commanded far more attention from defenses than other options at the 2. And that gave Curry precious extra moments on his own catches,” he wrote.

Poole will likely get plenty more chances to play alongside Curry early in the season. He is slated to join the starting lineup, filling in for Thompson until he is ready to return from an Achilles tear.

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