Jordan Poole understands the position he’s in. And the privilege he’s working with.
“I don’t think that’s normal,” the Warriors guard acknowledged Tuesday.
“That” is not referring to a very much up-and-down NBA rookie season, which is pretty usual for a late first-rounder. Nor is it referring to this Warriors season, which is very not normal for a franchise coming off a dynasty and with more, immediate dynastic goals.
No, what’s not normal is a fledgling shooter has two of the best in history surrounding him.
You can see the influence when his shots are not falling but they’re still being launched, the sort of confidence that comes from legends telling him to keep chucking.
You could see the influence during the 124-97 loss to the Mavericks at Chase Center, when the 20-year-old corralled the ball behind the arc, quickly hit the trigger over Justin Jackson, who made some contact on the follow-through. Poole fell to the ground as his shot fell through the hoop and gave Golden State fans a celebration they’ve been dying to see this season. He began counting with his fingers — one, two, three, four — a Stephen Curry homage.
Jordan Poole gets fouled on the 3, copies Steph's cele & points at him after pic.twitter.com/jtYhDMh3GW
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) January 15, 2020
This is the impact of having an injured Curry around the team, his trademarks still intact even if his hand isn’t. And while it’s Curry he’s emulating, it’s the other Splash Brother who’s in his ear.
“Those two guys, [Curry] and Klay — Klay told me in the Clippers game, all of them look good, just keep shooting,” Poole said after scoring 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-7 from deep. “… When you got the two best shooters in NBA history telling you to keep shooting the ball, I don’t think that’s normal. Just embrace that and really appreciate that and gives you a different sense of urgency and appreciation.”
Though Poole rejects the notion he’s found confidence — he says it’s always been there — he has looked like a more eager shooter since coming up from the G League on Jan. 4, following four missed NBA games so he could work on his game in Santa Cruz. He had been a shooter more by reputation than execution, hitting just 25 percent of his shots in his first 29 games.
On a team that was (and is) the worst in the NBA, he stood out as the most disappointing. A demotion later and with the help of a couple shooters — actually three, if you count his coach — he looks like an NBA player.
“He just looks freer,” Steve Kerr said. “He had been pressing there for a while, and the last couple games he looks like he did in the beginning of the season. Just playing pretty loose and free and knocking down some shots. Looks like he’s enjoying himself out there.
“… He’s getting better.”
Poole insisted he hasn’t changed anything, including his mindset. That does not show.
“The shots are starting to fall,” Poole said simply. “It’s been a good stretch of games. Just want to keep it going.”