HOUSTON — Warriors coaches and teammates have praised rookie guard Jordan Poole early on for his confidence. On the flipside of confidence, however, lies recklessness.
In the first game of the preseason, Poole put up nine 3-pointers on a team with a healthy Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell. Just getting that many shots while playing among two All-Stars is an accomplishment (let alone making four of them).
While Poole has been shooting just as freely in the regular season, the shots haven’t been going in as much as they were in the preseason. It’s partly due to a shooting slump, something that afflicts most players at some point. It’s his shot selection, however, that is problematic.
Poole is shooting just 25.8% from the field to start his career. Among the 364 players who have taken as many shots as Poole this season, that ranks dead last. Meanwhile, his 89 shot attempts is tops on the Warriors.
“He’s getting a lot up. You know, he’s taking some tough shots, I’m not going to get on him too much about those shots,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I want guys to feel confident. I want guys to feel like I believe in them and that’s important as they go.
“We watch tape every day, both individually and as a team, and we point those things out on tape more than we do in games.”
Poole made two of his 11 shots against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. Before that, he went 3-of-16 against the Trail Blazers, and 2-of-9 against the Hornets.
With a slight build at 6-foot-4, 194 pounds, Poole struggles to get to the rim and finish through contact (shooting 35.3% within five feet of the rim), which means he ends up settling for 3-pointers and ill-advised mid-range shots. Poole has taken 18 mid-range shots this season, making just two of them.
Beyond his small stature, however, seems to be a lack of off-the-dribble moves. Poole struggled to find openings against Houston’s switching defense. When he did get a traditionally favorable matchup in isolation, he failed to take advantage.
On one play in the third quarter, Poole got the ball on the left side of the court above the break, with Rockets forward PJ Tucker defending him. Tucker is an elite defender but didn’t do anything special in this instance. He shaded Poole to the left. Rather than attempt a dribble move and make his way to the middle of the floor, Poole settled. He took a step back and chucked up a 3-pointer from several feet behind the arc. It predictably clanged off the back iron.
It’s important to remember that Poole, the 20-year-old out of Michigan who was taken with the 28th pick in the draft, wasn’t supposed to play this much, this early. However, injuries to Curry, Russell, and guard Jacob Evans forced Poole onto the floor.
“I think it’s a blessing and a curse, the position Jordan’s in, because he’s going to play no matter what. We only have nine guys. Everyone is going to play,” Kerr said.
That play against Tucker and several others will be shown to Poole in the film sessions Kerr talked about. Poole’s confidence will be important when faced with the tape, but so will be an ability to adjust.
Gunners like him will have slumps they will ultimately come out of. It’s recognizing those slumps and being able to impact the game in other ways, however, that will determine Poole’s success.
“We’re throwing him in the fire because of all the injuries,” Kerr said. “So there’s some good there, and some bad.”
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Source: East Bay Anatomy of a rookie slump: Warriors’ Poole needs to work on shot selection