Jordan Poole’s third-year explosion was a critical part of the Golden State Warriors championship-winning 2021-22 season. Poole’s staggering rise was a beneficiary of the team’s circumstances – injuries meant Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson missed significant periods at either of the season, allowing Poole to start 51 of his 76 regular season games.
So impressive was Poole, that come playoff time, Curry made his return to a sixth man role. The Warriors then briefly used their smaller ‘Poole Party’ lineup as a starting unit, before reverting back to a more traditional set up whereby Poole was again a sixth man.
Going into 2022-23, the 23-year-old looks set for relegation to a more regular bench role, even considered an equal favorite for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award. But Poole’s displayed himself to be much more than that, he’s a starting caliber player stuck behind the best shooting backcourt of all time. Complicating matters is Poole’s eligibility for a contract extension, where he’s expected to command north of $20 million a season.
The Golden State Warriors need to orchestrate a long-term plan for Jordan Poole or risk losing him to a rival team next offseason.
Even if Poole does enter free agency next offseason, his restricted status means Golden State can choose to match should they wish. That’s an uncomfortable scenario though, one the Warriors should be aiming to avoid if they can.
Perhaps he simply accepts the Warriors extension offer, provided it meets his financial demands. But it’s also highly likely that Poole and his management will seek some sort of guarantee on his future with the team.
Firstly, an aging Curry and Thompson will likely rest plenty in the regular season. Assuming they do so mostly in separate games, that’ll give Poole the scope to still start 25-30 games. That won’t satisfy him though, he’d rightfully have no interest in being a part-time starter going forward.
There’s only two genuine ways in which Poole can become a full-time starter, each with their own limitations and challenges for he and the franchise.