Warriors Working to Make Rookie Jordan Poole More Than Just a Scorer

The Warriors selected Jordan Poole in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft in part for his offensive confidence.

During the onset of the preseason, Poole has rewarded those hopes, making 48 percent of his shots through his first two games. 

In Monday's 104-98 loss to the Lakers, however, he momentarily regressed, going just 3-for-14 from the field, offering an early lesson for the rookie: Find other ways to make an impact when your shot isn't falling. 

"Jordan is young and coming off two really good games," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said late Monday evening. "So this is inevitable, this is how it goes."

Poole missed his first six shots and committed five turnovers. Worse, he missed defensive assignments, which was put on display when he tripped over Lakers guard Zach Norvell Jr, falling as the guard made a shot, much to the delight of the Lakers bench. 

Throughout his basketball life, Poole has displayed unwavering confidence in his shot. Over a year ago, he made a buzzer-beater to send the Michigan Wolverines to the 2018 Sweet 16. But through his first two games with Golden State, the staff is hoping to make Poole more than a scorer.

"I think tonight is a really good tape to show Jordan because he struggled with some of the physicality," Kerr said. "And I think some of the decision making defensively. He was slow to react on rotations." 

For his part, Poole has bought into Golden State's plan. Last week against the Timberwolves, he was active. Four minutes into the second quarter, he barked out orders to D'Angelo Russell to switch onto his man before stripping forward Naz Reid. A minute later, guarding Jaylen Nowell, he shuffled his feet and blocked the shot out of bounds. 

Poole is trying to change a longstanding narrative about himself. While he led the Wolverines in scoring last season, his defensive attention was maligned, leading to a reputation he's looking to shake. 

"A narrative gets put out and that's kind of what you get labeled as," Poole told NBC Sports last week. "But you can always work on defense ... I'm just gonna to continue work on it day in and day out. I feel like I know I can score the ball and I'm really good on offense and be able to lock up on the perimete.

"I feel like that will take me to the next level."

As Monday's game drew to a close, Poole began to showed why Golden State remains intrigued in his game. Two minutes into the third quarter --- despite his poor start -- he calmly drained a 3-pointer off an assist from Steph Curry. A minute later, he took another pass from Curry and made a mid-range jumper to bring Golden State within six points. With three minutes left in the game, he made another 3-pointer to cut the Lakers' lead to three, displaying the confidence his teammates have encouraged throughout training camp. 

"When you have [D'Angelo Russell] and Steph [Curry] and Draymond [Green], Klay [Thompson], Jacob [Evans III], everybody telling you to shoot the ball, that you're here because you can score. Shoot," Poole said following the preseason opener Oct. 5. "I think it's simple. Obviously, take smart ones, but if you're open, don't hesitate." 

[RELATED: Steph Curry's leadership on display for Warriors]

Still, with Poole's evolution, the coaching staff hopes he can continue to grow an all-around game. 

"Typical rookie stuff," Kerr said. "And we'll show him but really it's all good stuff and it'll help him get better."

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