Jordan Poole has made a viable argument of being an apprentice ‘Splash Brother’ this year.
His ability to score from very deep, score in rapid bursts and also produce some wonderful creativity off the bounce in terms of creating his own buckets has people at least considering the notion.
The Golden State Warriors guard is very much the young apprentice to six-time NBA Finals veterans Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, with this being his first soiree at the big dance.
But he has been showing all season that he belongs on the roster and can indeed be the man to lift them to victory on some nights, like when he tied his career-high of 38 points, including seven made three-pointers, to go with nine rebounds and seven assists in a win over the Phoenix Suns at the end of March.
Poole also started the NBA Playoffs this year, playing ahead of Curry who was still finalising his convalescence from injury at the start of the opening-round series against the Denver Nuggets before the two-time MVP worked his way back into the starting line-up.
Poole’s improvement has been such this season that people have created a new nickname for a ‘death line-up’ with him as part of a four-pronged force alongside the Warriors veteran mainstays: Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green. The ‘PTSD’ line-up certainly has potential and it may well become a talking point at some stage of the NBA Finals, but for now Poole is happy to be the main ball carrier off the bench and looking for the keys that will help provide a potent scoring punch when Curry sits.
“Continue to be aggressive, but also got to find ways to get my team-mates going as well,” Poole exclusively told Sky Sports. “Being a primary playmaker out there when Steph isn’t on the court, still looking for my shots, you gotta gotta find that balance, but ultimately being aggressive.
“Just trying to find the holes in the pockets, in their defense, know who to swing to, how their rotations are, how they’re closing out to some people, and where they’re going to give people easy shots, threes, looks, to kind of look at it and see how they rotate. And, personally, go look at film and just find ways to pick them apart.”
Poole is in an incredibly fortunate position, being able to learn off the two finest NBA Playoffs distance shooters off all-time (Thompson officially went second in the list above LeBron James with his second three-pointer of Game 1) and one of the greatest point guards of all time in Curry.
That is something he appreciates, and he reckons it has really helped with the development of his game.
“Tremendously,” said Poole. “Being able just to watch him night and night out, ask him questions about how he moves off the ball, what he looks for, how he creates space, how to get open looks…
“Being able to ask the best shooter of all time that, it’s a tremendous tool to have to be honest. And I feel like I’ve done a really good job of using it and trying to apply it to my game.”
And it works in a similar way with Green on the other end of the floor.
“These guys are great and hey they see things differently,” Poole said. “Being able just to ask questions and see from their perspective, what they see, the rotations, how everything looks… and they have so much knowledge.
“They’ve been through so much basketball so it’s just tremendous to be able to have these guys allow me to ask all of the tough questions.”
But the NBA Finals got off to a rough start for the Warriors as the Boston Celtics claimed a 120-108 victory in the series opener after a dramatic fourth-quarter fightback, becoming the first team in NBA Finals history to win by double digits after coming into the final frame trailing by double digits.
Warriors guard Poole, though, says his team are confident of mustering a response.
“They got going a little bit, hit some open shots, they were able to connect later down the stretch,” Poole said. “We’ve got to find ways to kind of shut their water off early in the game so they don’t get comfortable. Play physical, but just stick to our game plan and get another win out.
“We’re confident in ourselves and the team that we have the players that we have, experience that we have. We fought a great team, great game, they win the first one. But the great thing about the finals is we’ve got four games to win. So bounce back, get one at home, try to get the ball, the momentum running a little bit and then take it on the road.”
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