Warriors Dynasty Drafting: Jordan Poole
A fantastic late-first-round pick
All articles in this series are at How the Warriors Extended The Dynasty Through The Draft, an in-depth series.
In the big picture, our comparisons show that GSW drafted quite well compared to who they could have drafted, and better than any other post-1980s dynasty. However, the nature of the draft is that you’ll get picks that don’t work out. It’s the overall body of work that counts for judging a front office. Criticizing an individual draft is like criticizing a player’s single shot. If it was a good shot, then the result is not as important as the overall shot profile and efficiency.
Despite having just said that, I will now critique the individual draft picks from the point of view of results for the dynasty.
Who was a better pick in 2019?
The Warriors picked Jordan Poole at #28.
He had a record-setting playoff debut as starting point guard and offensive engine while Steph Curry tried to speed-run his foot recovery.
Poole made some of the most memorable shots of the 2022 Finals:
This huge shot put a stop to the last ditch Celtics comeback that threatened to steal pivotal Game 5. Then he also played a big role in the championship winning 21-0 run in Game 6, hitting two massive threes.
But if I had written this article in April 2021, almost everyone would have declared Jordan Poole a confirmed bust. At the time, Poole had struggled through 1+ years of very inefficient play (statistically near the worst in the league) and had been sent to the G-League to get reps and his confidence back. The pick was near universally regarded as a failure and the more whiny fans took it as a fireable offense by Bob Myers.
If we learn nothing else from this series, it’s that players with talent, good work ethic, good coaching and a good role can dramatically change their careers. We cannot rush to judgment on the wisdom of picking them.
At the end of the 2020-21 season, Poole showed signs of life in the ending 15-5 run and played fearlessly in the Play-In Games. Poole finally exploded in 2021-22 and was a leading candidate for Most Improved Player. Suddenly, he was the steal of the 2019 draft. In the last couple of months of the season, he showed he could be the micro-Steph-Curry on an okay team. The question was, could he produce against playoff-quality defenses and hold up against getting picked on by offenses?
His record-setting debut against the Denver Nuggets was the perfect way to get his confidence, with him pouring in points against a so-so defense who just couldn’t stop him nor block his shot at the rim. The Poole Party got a lot of hype until DEN put Aaron Gordon on Poole and clamped him.
Things got a lot harder in the Grizzlies series after Ja Morant got injured (due supposedly to the power of Jordan Poole’s pinky… Taylor Jenkins didn’t accuse him, he was just curious) where everyone had trouble with the long, athletic, switchy defenders and the aggressive shot blocking. But Poole continued to play an important role driving the non-Curry minutes and sometimes crunch time.
In the end, Poole averaged 17 / 3.8 / 2.8 in the playoffs as essentially the Sixth Man, and in the Finals, he bounced back from getting every shot blocked off his head for the first half of the series to finding ways to be a microwave scorer in short minutes and hitting numerous key shots.
The players drafted after Poole, ordered by Win Shares:
Daniel Gafford, CHI, #38. A productive big role player for CHI.
Terance Mann, LAC, #48. Sharpshooting spot starter for LAC.
Keldon Johnson, SAS #29. Starting small forward for the plucky SAS.
Other notables behind Poole:
Kevin Porter Jr. #30. Starter for the sub-NBA Houston Rockets. Has Poole-ish handle getting to the hoop, but needs the ball and is not nearly as good a shooter. For now, Poole is better for GSW and just better.
Eric Paschall #41
Quinndary Weatherspoon #49
Kyle Guy #55
Gafford, Mann and Johnson are solid pros, but GSW would never trade Poole for any of them, or even for all three of them combined. Poole has too much potential in the dimensions GSW lacks: shot creation outside of Steph Curry and off-ball shooting outside of Steph and Klay Thompson.
How did GSW do against the field?
Jordan Poole ranked for the entire draft class #13 in Win Shares and #16 in Value Over Replacement Player.
This is already HUGE value for the #28 pick, but this standing is extra amazing when you consider that he was a statistical nightmare for half his career. Omitting his rookie year, he would place #11 in WS and #7 in VORP.
In recent glowing re-drafts, people seriously argued whether Poole should be re-drafted in the Top 5.
Pick Grade: A+
Most importantly for the Dynasty, Jordan Poole played a crucial role in the 2022 Playoffs. On the championship Warriors team, he was the only player besides Steph Curry who could manufacture shots off the dribble. And he could also slot in beside Steph in lineups for extra scoring punch. He persevered and found multiple ways to contribute despite being hunted and game-planned.
He was especially important at the start of the playoffs leading the Warriors attack vs DEN so Steph Curry could ease his way back into playoff shape as Steph returned from injury in a bench role starting Game 1.
The Warriors got at least a Top 10 pick value at #28. For extra difficulty, recall that Poole was widely mocked as a mid-second-round pick and GSW was derided as reaching.
The Liang Gang @coldcashc21@MrJayBenz What’s crazy is that when the Dubs picked Poole, people thought it was a huge reach. No one had him beyond the 2nd round in their mock drafts.
With the importance of Poole to the 2022 Championship run, the outstanding value of the pick, and the extra pressure of “reaching” for an unappreciated prospect, this was a brilliant pick. Bonus points for sticking with him through his miserable career start.
Abaddon and Sleepy brought up a good point in the comments: that Steph Curry and Jordan Poole were the main shot-creators, but Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson could also get a shot off the dribble.
Yes, Wiggins was crucial in being able to take the ball with the shot clock low and just get a shot off.
But I’d say you can build a whole offense around Poole and Steph’s shot creation and Wiggs’s is in the In Case of Emergency box because of its low efficiency.
You made me curious, so I checked Synergy. According to them:
Plays in Isolation in 21-22 Playoffs
Poole 34 plays, 1.147 ppp (points per possession), 83% percentile
Curry 63 plays, 1.127 ppp, 79% percentile
Wiggins 23 plays, 0.609 ppp, 5% percentile (bottom of league)
Klay 18 plays, 0.833 ppp, 31% percentile
Not saying Wiggs is bottom 5%, because those were almost all last-resort shots against great defenses, but Curry and Poole are in a very very different category
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