Jordan Poole was on the outside of the Golden State Warriors‘ roster looking in just a few months ago, but a torrid end to the season — and a lingering injury for one of the team’s key players — could now have earned Poole a place in the starting lineup on opening night.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr revealed this week that Poole will likely be taking the floor in place of Klay Thompson when Golden State kicks off the 2021-22 season in October. While Thompson has shown some positive signs as he works his way back from an Achilles injury that wiped out all of last season, the Warriors have made it clear that he won’t be back to start the season.
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Poole in Line to Start
Speaking to The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami, Kerr said that Poole is likely in line to take Thompson’s starting minutes while he is still recovering from the November 2020 injury. Kelly Oubre Jr., who recently left the Warriors in free agency to join the Charlotte Hornets, had moved into Thompson’s spot on the wing for most of the season.
“My gut reaction is Jordan Poole,” Kerr said when asked who would move into the starting lineup. “But that’s without having seen anybody at camp.
“I think he’s got a great chance to start … obviously, when you make a decision on your starting lineup, you have to look at how that impacts the bench. If I feel like Jordan makes the most sense as our backup point to Steph, there’s a good chance I bring him off the bench and start Damion [Lee] or [Mychal Mulder].”
It would mark quite a dramatic turnaround for Poole. The 2019 draft pick struggled at times in the G Leaguelast season , turning the ball over 4.4 times a game and hitting just 32.5 percent of his three-pointers. But after joining Golden State at the conclusion of the G League season, Poole had what the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau described as an almost unprecedented mid-season jump. Letourneau said that Poole looked almost “unrecognizable” from the player who had struggled earlier in the season, especially as he moved into a starting role while Steph Curry was injured. Poole ended up averaging 12 points and 1.9 assists per game for the Warriors, while turning the ball over just one time in 19 minutes per game.
Thompson’s Return Uncertain
While there may be more clarity over who moves into the starting lineup, it remains less certain just when the Warriors could expect to see Thompson back on the court. Warriors general manager Bob Myers had said he likely won’t be back to start the season, and it could take months for Thompson to fully return to form.
“What we’re focused on is when Klay will be Klay, and I don’t know if that will be January, February or March. It’s too early to say,” Myers said, via Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Good news is (that he’s) really been diligent with his work. He and Rick Celebrini have worked closely all summer, he’s right on schedule,” Kerr said. “He’s been on the floor running now for the last few weeks. I think the light is finally at the end of the tunnel.
“But you know, as we get close to the season, and he gets closer and closer, we’re obviously going to be very, very careful and we’ll lean on the advice of our training staff to let us know when he’s ready to play.”