While many have been quick to point out the weaknesses of Jordan Poole’s game since his departure from the Golden State Warriors, there’s undoubtedly a number of positives that the franchise will miss from the departed young guard.
With the Warriors having 15 back-to-backs on the recently released NBA schedule, Poole’s availability — he played all 82 games last season — is the most obvious aspect the franchise will miss. Yet more than that, there’s specific facets of his game Golden State will find hard to replace.
Jordan Poole’s ability to get to the free-throw line could be a major missing element to the Golden State Warriors next season.
Poole’s rise from G League stint to $120+ million player was owed to his three-level scoring ability. Possessing a lightning first-step to blow-by defenders, Poole’s ability to get to the rim off the dribble was important in setting up himself and his teammates.
Perimeter defenders were often forced to reach in on Poole’s drives, while his speed often meant big men didn’t help in time to contest shots legally. He often drew fouls as a result, with Poole leading the Warriors in free-throw attempts last season at 5.1 per game.
Not only did Poole get to the line, but he almost always converted. He shot 87% from the charity stripe last season and was a league-best 92.5% in 2021-22. It was an important element given that even with Poole, Golden State ranked last in free-throw attempts last season.
Speaking on a recent episode of Gil’s Arena with Gilbert Arenas, 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala spoke about Poole’s ability to get to the free-throw line, and what the 24-year-old could do with the Washington Wizards next season.
"“He’s the only one that got to the line for us consistently…He gonna’ get to the line and then at home, you’ve got to give him the whistle at home, he gonna’ average 30 at home”, Iguodala said."
The next question is where Golden State can make up some of the loss they’ll feel from Poole’s departure. His replacement, Chris Paul, shot 2.7 free-throws per game last season, which would have ranked second on the Warriors behind Stephen Curry (5.0).
It certainly isn’t directly on Paul though, with the franchise needing to take a holistic approach to addressing their low free-throw rate. From an individual perspective, Jonathan Kuminga is the player most capable of making up the differential. The 20-year-old averaged 2.1 free-throws per game in 2022-23, ranked third for Golden State despite playing less than 21 minutes per game off the bench.
Regardless of how it’s achieved, the Warriors need to find some sort of antidote rather than conceding that their perimeter-style of play, and the loss of Poole, has them destined to rank last in free-throw attempts again next season.