Jordan Poole got a ton of shots up Monday night. Unfortunately for the rookie, none of them were in the Warriors’ game against Memphis. Coach Steve Kerr mentioned Tuesday that Poole had stuck around Chase Center to shoot for an hour after Golden State’s insipid 110-102 loss.
“Which is exactly what you have to do,” Kerr said. “If you don’t play in a game, you have to continue to get your work in.”
Unlike almost everyone else on the Warriors roster, Poole is not injured. It was a “Did Not Play — Coach’s Decision” — Kerr’s decision — that kept him on the bench against the Grizzlies.
A month and a half into his first season, Poole is within shouting distance of rock bottom. Of course, there is every reason to believe better days are ahead. In the short term, though, those better days are unlikely to occur in San Francisco. Kerr would not confirm it, but NBC Sports Bay Area reported Tuesday that Poole is slated for a stint with the Warriors’ G League team in Santa Cruz.
That’s what happens when you are shooting at a historically bad rate.
In his 24 games thus far, Poole has attempted 229 shots and made 25.8 percent of them. To provide some perspective, no NBA player has shot that poorly over an entire season, on that many attempts, since Les Pugh did it for the Baltimore Bullets in 1949-50. No Warrior has done it since Jerry Fleishman and Ralph Kaplowitz teamed up to miss the broad side of several barns for the 1947-48 Philadelphia team. That’s not a metaphor. I believe many Basketball Association of America games were played in barnyards.
For Poole, there is at least one huge mitigating factor.
“It’s a hard transition to go from college to the pros,” Kerr said, “but particularly when you’re 20 years old, you’ve only played two years of college ball. You’re still getting stronger, you’re growing, you’re maturing. It’s a little easier for a four-year guy like Eric Paschall or Ky Bowman to come in to the NBA. Those two extra years are a big difference. So I think that first (NBA) year it’s about figuring everything out — shot selection, defense, different actions that you have to guard. Speed and strength of your opponent. It’s all brand new.”
Point taken. We have to cut Poole some slack. So far, though, he simply hasn’t demonstrated that he’s a legitimate NBA shooter, which is pretty much what the Warriors drafted him to be. And it has only gotten worse. The young man hasn’t made a basket in December. Poole is 0 for 19 over four games since the calendar flipped to the painting of Santa.
Locating his shot will be a challenge for the rookie. It’s also one more challenge for Kerr and his staff, who are trying to sell tickets, win games (truly, they are), impart the standards of a championship legacy and patiently coax what they can get from a largely inexperienced and unproven group of Warriors.
For the most part, Kerr has shown tremendous patience. I mean, what other options does he have? When you play a two-week stretch of games with a total of eight available players, and none of those players are Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson or (in some of them) D’Angelo Russell or Kevon Looney — forget about Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston — there is only so much you can expect.
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This story was written by Phil Barber.