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Poole brought fireworks to a "meaningless" game as GSW showcased development vs NOP
It's a Poole Party!
There were no playoff implications going into last night’s game with the Golden State Warriors versus the New Orleans Pelicans. This pregame tweet from beatwriter Anthony Slater summed up how effectively meaningless that game was considering the Warriors play-in seeding could only be determined by the conclusion of their contest against Memphis on Sunday.
With that in mind the Dubs braintrust rested the wearied big guns who had done the heavy lifting during this season from hell. No Stephen Curry or Draymond Green or Andrew Wiggins available. The Pelicans didn’t have their studs available either: no Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball. If there was ever a game to miss for the casual fan with fun Friday night plans, this was certainly it. The Dubs won 125-122 in case you were wondering lol.
But for those who keep careful watch over this roster like a true fanatic, last night’s game was like a parent asking their child to stand next to the door frame so they could pencil in a line over their heads to see how much they’ve grown. Much disappointment with the front office and Coach Steve Kerr has been vocalized for an apparent lack of development. Here’s a juicy excerpt from Dieter Kurtenbach’s piece back in March discussing that due to the dynasty the Warriors hadn’t “developed anybody for years”:
Not one of their three draft picks from 2019 has proven to be a bonafide NBA player. Eric Paschall is a spot player in Kerr’s new rotations. Damion Lee, who wasn’t a draft pick but who broke out for the Dubs last year, isn’t part of the rotation, either. Both of those decisions are justifiable, by the way. Perhaps Marquese Chriss developed into a valuable NBA player last season, but he’s injured, so we don’t really know.
The Warriors didn’t develop anybody in a developmental season. It’s part of a trend: they haven’t developed anybody for years. (This staff and front office’s best case-study for development is Kevon Looney.)
So how did the developmental showcase go down last night? Let’s start with some team success: 42 made shots on 29 assists with only 11 turnovers. 43% shooting from downtown (17-of-39). A season high 41 first quarter points, the team’s sixth 40-point quarter of the season. And a W on primetime TV!
Let’s dive into some of the individual performances to get a better idea of what the future may hold with Golden State’s developmental projects.
Jordan Poole: Future Sixth Man of the Year?
38 points, 12-of-22 shooting (4-of-9 from 3PT range), 10-of-11 on free throws, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 2 turnovers.
That’s what JP3 decided to do in his 33 minutes of showcase time despite a gnarly looking ankle injury, emphatically washing away any “bust label” that was hastily applied during his shaky rookie campaign last season. Remember when Poole was shooting at a historically awful clip? I guess Draymond Green was right about Poole having an elite work ethic. Plus it can’t hurt for a young shooter to be hanging out with the Splash Bros, the greatest shooting tandem of all time.
One huge difference from last season to now is Poole has a deeper understanding of reading situations. Before, he would dribble recklessly into a wall of defenders or jack up an ill-advised jumper as if he had already decided what he was gonna do without processing the floor first. Last night he showed a cool command of his game and the offense, confidently flowing as both an on-ball creator and an off-ball menace. His backdoor cuts gave the Pelicans fits. He hit the game clinching layup late in the final seconds, a beautiful finish to an epic night.
I wanna give a scouting shout out here to basketball author and a friend of LGW: Dr. Tom. When we sat through a Hennessy haze in Las Vegas during 2019 Summer League alongside Brady Klopfer, Dr. Tom was the guy who kept spotlighting Poole during the exhibitions. Here’s what Dr. Tom wrote at the time on Poole’s potential:
What we’ve seen during the Summer League is that Poole will take those shots when the opportunity is there. That’s exactly what Warriors fans wanted to see out of the rookie this summer. There’s no question that Poole can score, but it’s the other things that will dictate how good he can be in the NBA. If he can also be a playmaker and ball-distributor, he can really help the Warriors and provide them with some flexibility.
It’s worth remembering that we’re still just in Summer League and that our collective expectations shouldn’t get too high for the rookie from Michigan. But Poole has shown something thus far and it’s making those who criticized the Warriors for selecting him in the first round look a bit foolish.
After a rookie year where he struggled to read the flow of the game and had a wonky jumpshot, Poole is coalescing more and more into the player the Dubs hoped he would be when they drafted him in the first round.
Mychal Mulder got Klay fired up
28 points, 10-of-17 shooting from the field (7-of-13 from beyond the arc), +9 plus/minus in team high 34 minutes.
I know the box score will tell you that the best part of the former G-Leaguer’s game is his shooting. This guy was drilling shots from so deep that the sidelined star Klay Thompson reactivated the three-point shotgun celebration from the dynasty days. Find Klay in this clip lmao:
But the part of Mulder’s game that really got me going last night was his vertical jump. This guy is catching alley oops outta nowhere!
Nico Mannion: The Lil Floor General
11 points on 3-of-12 shooting (2-of-6 from 3PT range), 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 turnover.
One thing about Coach Kerr’s backup guards last night is that they did NOT turn the ball over. Both Poole and Mannion protected the rock, with Mannion in particular showing a sneaky floor generalship and showmanship we see in the classic point guard mold a la Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo.
Mannion is small at 6-foot-2 amongst the trees out there and it’s clear the rookie needs more reps to feel more comfortable finishing in traffic. But he’s not afraid to get in there and mix it up with the big guys; his 8 rebounds tied for second highest on the team.
Baze and JTA bring the energy
Juan-Toscano Anderson did his best Draymond impersonation: 9 points, 9 assists (career high!), and 9 rebounds. Kent Bazemore continued to serve as a veteran presence on the court to the younger guys, bulling his way to 14 points on 50% shooting. Defensively these two guys were flying around and forcing the Pelicans to feel their physicality. I like these two as key glue guy X-factors going into the play-in tournament.
Ole reliable Kevon Looney was a team high +11 in his 22 minutes, scoring 7 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. We know this champion is good to go for the play-in battle. But the Warriors had three other guys they’ve been attempting to develop over the years into small ball bigs.
Eric Paschall returned from his month-and-a-half long injury absence with a quality 19 minutes. He scored 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting and hit a monster putback that kept the Dubs in the game late.
I’m still unsure of exactly what Paschall’s role will be going into the tournament coming back from his extended absence. I like his confidence in isolation situations as he has quality offensive moves when he’s facing up in the mid range. Paschall made it work last night. Check his shot chart:
On the other end, the Pelicans were 5-of-8 from the field when he was the primary defender. The 6-foot-6 Paschall plays both forward and center depending on the lineups and has to defend a variety of players. How will Kerr use him defensively? I’m eager to see.
Bell and Smiley
The team got an emotional lift with the return of the king of parade celebrations Jordan Bell. He snagged 5 boards, blocked 2 shots, and dished 2 sweet dimes in 15 minutes with the reserves. We know his true strength is unlocked when he shares the floor with Steph; we’ll have to wait and see for that magic to come back.
As far Alen Smailagic? The game doesn’t seem to have slowed down for him yet. In 20 minutes he scored 5 points on 6 shots with 2 rebounds and 3 fouls. The game appears too fast for him right now, although I admire his strong effort.
Alright folks, time to watch these other games to see how the seeding will shake out. Here’s a big happy birthday to LGW hero Duby Dub Dubs! He’s a foundational piece to what we do here in providing Warriors-related news and entertainment, and we’re all blessed to have his talents here. If you see him in the streets, buy him some Henny.