Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr appears to be throwing some cold water on rumors of a rift with budding star Jordan Poole.
Poole was in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season, but has seen his playing time dwindling with the return of Klay Thompson and a shooting slump for Poole. That culminated in Poole getting only four minutes of playing time in the fourth quarter in the February 27 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, a game in which Poole went 0-for-7 with no points.
As reports have swirled that there could be a rift between the coach and the third-year player, Kerr spoke out and offered some words of encouragement for Poole.
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Kerr Addresses Poole’s Slump
Following Sunday’s game, Kerr simply acknowledged that he went away from Poole because he was having a hard time shooting.
“He just wasn’t having a great night, so I just decided to go a different direction,” Kerr said.
But Poole’s struggles extend far beyond one game. Since moving out of the starting lineup, he is scoring just 12.2 points per game compared to 18.3 points per game before Thompson’s return. While many expected Poole’s output to diminish as Thompson took on a bigger share of the offense, Poole’s efficiency has dropped as well, including his three-point shooting percentage.
That led to speculation that Kerr and Poole are not seeing eye to eye. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson noted on this week’s edition of the Warriors Plus Minus that there seems to be growing frustration from Poole at his diminishing role and more frustration from Kerr about Poole’s drop in production.
But Kerr struck a positive tone before Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, praising Poole for his breakout season and stressing that he still has total faith in him.
“He has had a great year,” Kerr said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “The other night to me is nothing. He had a tough night. I could have done a better job trying to help him find a rhythm. Didn’t play him enough in the first half, probably. These games, they all matter, but there is 82 of them. So I never worry too much about one game with any of them. I look at the big picture, and the big picture is that Jordan has had a fantastic year, and we have great faith in him.”
Poole Still Seen as Building Block for Warriors
Though it may be difficult for Poole to move beyond his shooting slump, the future appears bright for the 22-year-old who is just one season removed from splitting time between Golden State and the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz. He is seen as a key building block for the future along with rookie Jonathan Kuminga and second-year center James Wiseman, and Kerr noted that Poole has played a big role in the team’s 43-18 record, which has put them in second place in the Western Conference.
“He’s had a great year, and he’s been a big reason for our success,” Kerr said. “He’s only in his third year. He’s still got a lot of growth ahead of him, which is exciting. He just needs to keep working. He’s one of our hardest workers, and he’s got a great approach, and he’s got a really bright future, so it’s exciting.”