Is Jordan ready to be number one choice for Poole Warriors?
Steph Curry’s injury gives us a chance to see Jordan Poole as the centerpiece of Golden State’s offense. Is he ready to take on this responsibility?
The cornerstone of the Golden State Warriors dynasty (a man known to some as Stephen Curry) has missed the last seven games due to injury and yet somehow went 4-3 in this series.
Basketball is a team game, but this incident cannot be attributed to the productive play of Jordan Poole, who averaged 27.6 points per game as the team’s main offensive option in Curry’s absence.
Even more interestingly, this isn’t the first time Poole has filled Curry’s void when he was unavailable. In 27 regular-season games without Curry over the past two seasons, Poole has averaged 26.3 points per game on 58.5 true shooting percentage (above-average efficiency over the past two years).
Those numbers beg the question: Is Poole capable of being the number one option on his team full-time?
In the context of this discussion, when we include the designation “number one pick,” we’re talking about the offensive end of the floor. In general, to be a competent full-time striker, you need to be fluent in two languages: scoring and playing.
Can Jordan Poole get enough buckets?
Despite only being 23 years old, Poole is already one of the most complete goalscorers in the league.
On the ball, he can create an effective attack at all three levels. While his first step isn’t as lethal as, say, Anthony Edwards, he’s quick enough to step outside and finish at will.
If opponents stop him moving to the rim, he has no problem stopping short and shooting for a mid-range jumper. Per the cleaning glass, he sits in the 74th percentile in efficiency for his position on all mid-range attempts (short and long).
And while his 3-point percentage is down this year, his 86.6% charity stripe conversion rate (a strong signal of a player’s ability as a shooter) suggests he should return to his previous records.
It’s no secret that the Warriors mold his moves the same way as Curry, placing him in a constant state of scouting, curling and cutting until he presents himself with a valuable opportunity.
Poole’s mix of on-ball and off-ball scoring makes him an all-round weapon, as he can take matters into his own hands and support weaker squads, and he can exist alongside more ball-dominant second and third options by moving without a rock. it is at his disposal.
So Jordan Poole scores as first choice, but can he pass as only?
A small caveat: scoring and gambling are not entirely separate skills. On the contrary, these two disciplines often go hand in hand.
A good score can give you a head start on your game, as you constantly attract the attention of extra defenders, which opens up chances to distribute it to poorly guarded teammates. At the same time, a poor score can hinder their playing prowess as teams will collapse on players, play in the passing lane and challenge them to beat them with their own points.
Poole’s score brings him closer to this first description than to the second. In addition to making the same plays as Curry, Poole also draws similar levels of attention from the defense, usually leading to easy dimes when the two defenders commit to him on any scouting move.
Beyond these simple streams, Poole is adept at identifying and pursuing higher-value discoveries. His dazzling grip, whimsical creativity and ability to get into the paint at will make him a terrific interior passer who can shut down teammates with high-percentage looks.
Transmission types are not a problem for him. Jordan Poole can make almost every transition in the book (though he feels better on open layups than open 3s). His real game flaw is in the scope of his creativity.
One stat we’ve intentionally left out until now is that Poole has averaged 5.0 assists per game in the 27 games he’s played without Curry over the past two seasons. It’s not a good sign that he creates too many chances for his teammates.
A more nuanced stat for this type of analysis is Ben Taylor’s creation of a box, which measures the number of shots a player creates for teammates per 100 possessions, not just through his passes, but his weight and ability to distort the defense. By the way, Poole’s Box Creation sits at 8.7. That’s a solid creative volume in the same vein as Tyrese Maxey, Kyrie Irving and D’Angelo Russell, but it’s a significant step up from true-blue number one picks.
For example, Curry creates about 14.5 shots for his teammates per 100 possessions. While Curry is on a whole other level, other key guards such as Ja Morant, Darius Garland, Shai Giggleous Alexander and Jalen Brunson are also posting significantly higher ratings.
To propel himself towards full-time number one option status, Poole will need to increase his creativity. However, thanks to the youth power and all the skills we highlighted above, such a development is not excluded.
In fact, given how quickly Poole has progressed as an NBA player — from one of the worst players in the association, to Curry’s attractive sidekick, to someone who can now temporarily assume his predecessor’s mantle as the great kahuna of the dynasty — one would be. It’s smart to bet he’ll be a reliable number one option in his own elite offensive machine.
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