I remember when I was a kid, my parents took me to one of their parties with their friends. The party was full of titos and titas who were catching up, drinking, and having fun. It just wasn’t my kind of fun. Thankfully, the host of the party called her son to join me at the party. Let’s call him JP, whom I got along with immediately. We were running around the house, playing games, and having our own fun.
That party reminded me of the Golden State Warriors this season.
Steph Curry is 34 years old. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are both 32. By normal standards, they’re already considered titos. What more in the context of the NBA where players are considered grizzled vets at 24? Don’t get me wrong. The Warriors are still having their fun. They’re still winning games and making noise in the playoffs, but their party is now hosted by a bunch of titos. The core of their championship teams is getting old. They needed an infusion of new, young talent. They found it in Jordan Poole.
Poole made a real splash in Golden State this season. He did it by fitting into the team’s current setup. When the Warriors needed a starter to fill in for Thompson, who was still recovering from a knee injury, they turned to Poole. He produced at nearly the same level as Thompson, averaging 17.5 points with 2.5 triples a game. When Thompson returned in January, Poole was relegated back to the bench. He continued being a key contributor as the team’s sixth man. He was called back into a starting role to end the season when Curry was out with a foot injury. Poole once again delivered, averaging 25 points and six assists in the final 12 games of the season.
He was so good to end the season that he stayed in the starting lineup to start the playoffs. Poole has been incredible so far, leading the Warriors in scoring in their first three postseason games, dropping 30, 29, and 27 on the Denver Nuggets. He cooled off a bit in the next two games but bounced back almost immediately with a near triple-double (31-8-9) in Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Poole is averaging 22.3 points (55% FG) and 5.9 assists in the first postseason of his NBA career.
Poole has been so important to the Warriors’ run this season. He’s also the key to the team’s future.
Not a lot of teams can future-proof themselves. Usually, when an aging core is declining, teams blow it all up to be able to start from scratch. There’s no smooth transition from the older group of players to the young blood of the team. That’s not the case with the Warriors, though. They have Poole, James Wiseman, and Jonathan Kuminga to step in for Curry, Thompson, and Green. That young core doesn’t work, though, without Poole.
There’s no question about Wiseman and Kuminga’s potential. Right now, they still need some growing up to do and can’t be relied on yet. Poole, on the other hand, has shown consistency throughout the regular season. More importantly, he’s proven that he’s ready to lead with his big games in the playoffs.
What makes Poole truly special isn’t his talent - it’s his personality. He’s the unholy combination of Curry and Nick Young. Poole has all-out, wear-it-on-your-sleeve confidence, backed up by an improving set of skills. He won’t hesitate to go for the highlight play because he knows he can nail the highlight play. Poole plays with unbridled joy, which is a crucial element of the Warriors’ identity.
He’s the perfect player to usher in a new era once the current core is done. Not only is he contributing in the present, but he also has the makings of a future superstar.
Back to my story. I totally forgot it was an old people’s party because of JP. As far as I was concerned, he was hosting that party, and I was having a blast. At first, I didn’t want to stay. Then, I didn’t want to go home. I just wanted the party to keep going.
JP reminds me of Poole.
Pretty soon he’s going to take over the hosting duties of Golden State’s party. With Poole leading the way, the Warriors are going to continue having fun.