The Golden State Warriors are one of the most complete teams in the NBA, and they’ve only been able to be so dominant behind an extremely deep and talented roster. Part of their significant year-over-year improvement, having missed the playoffs after losing twice in the play-in tournament a season ago, has been third-year guard Jordan Poole.
Poole has stepped up in a big way, and he’s made his presence felt even greater with two-time MVP Stephen Curry sidelined. Curry has been out since a demoralizing home defeat to the Boston Celtics. He sprained his foot on a dangerous play by Marcus Smart.
The Golden State Warriors have perennially had year-end award candidates, and this year, it may be Jordan Poole who is up for some recognition.
As for Poole, since that battle against the Celtics, not including the Warriors’ most recent game against New Orleans, he’s averaged 26.1 points and 6.3 assists per game. He’s also hitting 4.1 threes per game and shooting 95% from the free-throw line over that 11-game span.
It hasn’t just been a few-week span either. Poole has been terrific all season, averaging 18.4 points per game. He’s increased his scoring by about 66% over the previous seasons, going from 8.8 to 12 to 18.4.
Head coach Steve Kerr and many others have praised Poole’s work ethic, and his improvements have been on full display over the past few weeks. With that in mind, Draymond Green, who was named an All-Star this season, praised Poole as a potential Most Improved Player candidate.
"“The award is called the most improved. Not who had the best year. That’s the MVP. A lot of times we get it confused. No disrespect to Ja Morant, but Ja is an MVP candidate. Ja Morant isn’t the Most Improved Player. He was f—ing incredible last year. When you look around, the most improvement has been Jordan Poole and that goes without saying. He is the most improved,” Green said via ESPN’s Kendra Andrews."
Green is right in the regard that Poole wasn’t considered a threat last season, or at least not to the same level as Ja Morant. However, Poole, while still not at Morant’s level, has taken significant strides in his play.
Arguably more important than Poole’s scoring, and potentially even a greater testament to his improvements, is his efficiency. Poole shot 33% from the field and 28% from deep as a rookie. People had lost hope.
This past season, he’s at 45% from the field and 38% from deep. On top of that, Poole’s aggression has helped him get to the line more often which has made his league-best 92.4% free throw shooting even more notable.
Poole should, without a doubt, be a candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year. Let’s hope the committee agrees as well.