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Point guard Poole could be the breakthrough Golden State needed
Curry's not done for the season, and neither are the Warriors
Today is the last full day before the NBA’s trade deadline ends on Thursday, and while speculation runs mildly rampant, the odds are that the Golden State Warriors stand pat. It’s no sure thing, but everything the Warriors’ front office has done so far this season has indicated patience - a patience that is not likely to be drained from a few rough weeks of no Stephen Curry.
We’ll see, of course. That’s the beauty of the trade deadline: there’s a hard edge here. A line in the sand that is unmoving and final. And the team will either jump off the diving board or not - within the next day or so it’s all going to settle in, one way or another.
Tonight, the Warriors head up to Portland, where our old pal, Gary Payton II has been making his presence felt. Between his contributions, and the reliable wizardry of Oakland native, Dame Lillard, it’s going to be a tall order for the short-handed Warriors.
Oh and hey, friends!? IT’S KLAY THOMPSON’S BIRTHDAY!
WHO: Golden State Warriors (28-26) at Portland Trail Blazers (26-28)
WHEN: Wednesday, February 8th, 2023 // 7pm PDT
How the Warriors rolled out in first non-Curry game is a good omen
Jordan Poole has had a rough season. Which was not all that weird, considering he started off the season getting punched in the face by Draymond Green. But it’s also a little bit weird.
Poole had four 20-point games off the bench in the playoffs last year, playing no small part in the team’s success when it mattered the most. The Warriors invested heavily in him this offseason. Possibly somewhat related to the aforementioned face punch, Poole’s early extension - combined with investments in a youth movement that hasn’t panned out yet - are putting some pressure on Golden State’s long term design agenda.
But whether or not some of those second timeline kids are traded away or not is a separate issue from what’s happening right now on the court. Without Stephen Curry for the next month, at a minimum, it’s time for everyone else to shine. We’ll get to Klay Thompson’s awesomeness shortly, because what Poole did in the last game was pretty special.
For a player mostly known for his scoring, it only took 12 assists for Poole to set his new career high, but I think the important thing to remember here is that the pattern of asking for more - and getting it - is at the heart of why Poole is valued so highly in Golden State. Well, that, and because his game is just so darn pretty (when he’s not dribbling it off his foot or into an ugly turnover):.
Draymond Green and Steve Kerr both called that his best game, but I wanted to take a look at his overall trajectory. It’s not so much the new career high in assists (don’t get me wrong 12 is nice) but more that he’s getting better. Remember that Poole has had a bumpy entry into the NBA. But after spending some time developing in the G League, Poole has become something more than just a scorer.
I’ve got two graphics for you this morning. First, take a look at his usage (the percentage of team plays used by Poole during his time on court) combined with the percentage of assists he dishes out (AST%). For me, one of the best indicators of a truly good basketball player is how they hold up when asked for more.
Another way to look at this season is to take a longer lense to his big night last night. Via Cleaning the Glass, we can take a look at his rolling average assist rate this season. I know we’ve been down on his shooting and turnovers - for good reason - but take a look at how much of the season he’s spent above the line of average players at his position (the lower dotted line).
The answers aren’t always where they’re expected to be, and the revelation of Poole as more than just a scorer could be illuminating for a Warriors team that has looked increasingly desperate for any player to emerge from the pack and shine.
Happy birthday Klay Thompson!
Sure, there’s lots going on, but nothing matters to me more than the fact that today is Klay Thompson’s birthday, and he’s playing at the stadium closest to where he grew up.
"I'm so excited to play in front of my family," Thompson shared. "Just the narrative of playing in the Rose Garden where I grew up watching the Blazers, watching Kobe [Bryant] come to town, got to see [Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen] when I was really little, I'm just so excited to go back and it's really a dream.
"And to be able to play on my birthday, in the place where I was raised, where I fell in love with the game, I couldn't ask for a better story."
Fresh off his big game, I’m really hoping this is another good one for Thompson, who has endured not one, but two recoveries from significant leg injuries late in his career.
Man, just on a personal level, I really love Klay. Happy birthday sir!
Remember when Daniel Hardee made that rad video (with some art from myself and mrs. Hardee)? I sure do.
Thompson will get a win for his birthday, and there will be some extra emotional hugs for Gary Payton tonight.