Outside of being on the receiving end of the punch heard ’round the Bay (and the NBA at large) Golden State Warriors wing Jordan Poole’s last several months have gone about as well as any pro baller could ever hope for. He won his first championship ring, went into the offseason expecting to get a bag and just before the 2022-23 season tipped off, he got it and then some.
Whether or not Poole is truly the next guy for the Dubs, there’s no question that he’s being paid as such, having put pen to paper on a four-year extension worth $123-140 million.
Earning that level of payday is obviously a goal for everyone who realizes their NBA dreams, but it doesn’t come without some strings. Big-time paydays beget big-time expectations and, through the first two games of the season, Poole has yet to hit the mark.
A vocal minority of fans are already expressing concern about the early effort. However, Poole’s teammates and coaches aren’t close to smashing the panic button.
Wiggins Sounds Off on Poole’s Early-Season Struggles
Through two games, Poole has connected on just six of his 20 field goal attempts and two of his 11 tries from three-point range (or 30% and 18.2%, respectively). Worse yet, the Warriors have been outscored by 17 points per 100 possessions and posted a paltry offensive rating of 87.5 in his 56 minutes on the court.
For a player whose key strengths lie on the offensive end, those numbers are beyond rough. However, All-Star wing Andrew Wiggins isn’t sweating his teammate’s early slump.
“JP is a competitor,” Wiggins said, via NBC Sports Bay Area, after the Dubs’ Friday loss to the Denver Nuggets. “He didn’t score a lot tonight, but he’s due for a big game coming up. I believe in him, everybody here believes in him and we know what he’s capable of, so I don’t think anyone is worried.”
Added Wiggins: “I don’t think he’s worried. We have all the confidence in him. We saw what he did on the biggest stage. I know he’s going to be due for a big game soon.”
The former No. 1 pick isn’t alone in that mindset, either.
Kerr: Poole & Second Unit Still ‘Finding an Identity’
Warriors coach Steve Kerr indicated that Poole’s latest dud had as much to do with the team’s opponents as it did with the player himself.
“They were putting a lot of pressure on him in the pick-and-roll,” Kerr said. “Denver did a really good job this offseason adding Bruce Brown and [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] — two big, physical defenders in the backcourt. I thought they did a good job on Jordan.”
Kerr further noted that Poole’s problems are also part of a larger issue facing a second unit that’s still playing its first games together. But he’s confident that the 23-year-old will get things sorted, even if he is getting the opposition’s best shot now.
“With our second unit, we’re still in the midst of finding an identity with that group and that will help Jordan. In the meantime, he’s gonna have a target on his back. That’s what happens when you get really good and win a championship and play like he did in the playoffs and sign a big contract. This is how it works.
“We’ll try and help him, and we’ll start finding an identity with that second unit. He’ll be playing with both groups, and he’ll be fine.”