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3 Takeaways as undermanned Warriors lose big to Suns, but find something in Jordan Poole

© Mark J. Rebilas | 2021 Mar 4

Without Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Kelly Oubre, it was no surprise that the Warriors got blown out by the Suns on Thursday, falling 120-98 in Phoenix on the back end of a back-to-back. Still, there were a few notable takeaways from the contest:

Poole impresses, enough to spell Wanamaker

During a stretch at the end of the second quarter, Jordan Poole looked like the guy who was averaging 22.4 points in the G-League Bubble. Poole erupted for 13 points in 3:49 to close the quarter, which included two deep threes, an and-1 layup and an impressive dribble drive.

Poole wasn’t done. He followed that up with a similar explosion to close the game, dropping 13 more in the final 3:39. He finished with a career-high 26 points on 10-for-16 from the field, 5-of-10 from three in 26 minutes.

It was a performance impressive enough to put Poole in the rotation even when the Warriors are back to full strength after the All-Star break. Even more so when you consider that Brad Wanamaker was again a liability, finishing with a plus-minus of -15, second worst on the team. He was outplayed by both Poole and Nico Mannion who was making his first career start.

Poole’s call up was as much about his performance’s in the G League as they were about Wanamaker’s performances with the NBA team. Don’t be surprised if Thursday was a tipping point.

Young starters not the issue

This game was always going to be a wash once the pregame announcement was made that Stephen Curry, Draymond Green were going to be held out. Even more so when Kelly Oubre was announced as a late scratch for the second straight game (wrist). With all three out, the Warriors elected to go super young, starting Nico Mannion, Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson and James Wiseman.

Amazingly, that group played the red hot Suns somewhat closely, with Mannion (9 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) looking comfortable running the show. Again it was the bench that sunk Golden State. Four of the five worst plus-minus figures were held by the bench mob: Eric Paschall (-16), Wanamaker (-15), Kevon Looney (-14) and Kent Bazemore (-12).

It’s yet another indicator that the Warriors need someone like Poole to help that unit after the break.

James Wiseman not ready for Deandre Ayton

James Wiseman’s test vs. Deandre Ayton exposed his biggest weakness. Wiseman’s aversion to contact has limited his ability as both a defensive player and a rebounder during his rookie season. Those limitations were exacerbated by going up against the brusing Ayton (11 points, 10 rebounds in 22 minutes) on Thursday, who won that battle easily during the minutes that the two were matched up.

Ayton’s physicality was also a problem for Wiseman on the defensive end, where the 19-year-old center was unable to score in the post against the rock solid third year player. Wiseman still finished with decent counting stats — 11 points and 11 rebounds — but the 5-for-14 shooting night was a better reflection of how his night went.

Analyzing a game like this for Wiseman is a bit complicated. On one had, he was going up against one of the tougher, better young centers in the league, and with just 26 games under his belt, growing pains vs. other good players are to be expected.

On the other hand, with your stars out, this is the type of game you’d like to see the No. 2 overall pick take over a bit, rather than be outplayed by your second round selection. Wiseman’s development will continue to be a slow process, and it’s clear that the time off has affected his rhythm a bit. Playing is the only way he’ll improve and he should get even more minutes during the second half of the season.


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