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Why Jordan Poole is the Golden State Warriors’ X-factor down the stretch

Vincent Frank

Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole played a starring role in the team’s surprising road win over an Eastern Conference-best Miami Heat team on Wednesday evening.

The former first-round pick scored 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting, finishing plus-19 in 39 minutes. He also added four rebounds and nine assists in a tremendous all-around performance.

This outing came with Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green all sidelined. Curry is sidelined with a foot injury while both Thompson and Green aren’t yet ready to play back-to-back games.

It also came after a struggling Warriors squad lost to the Orlando Magic with both Thompson and Green in the mix. To say it was rather surprising would be an understatement. And in reality, it proves that Jordan Poole is the Warriors’ X-factor moving forward to close the regular season and into the playoffs.

Related: Updated NBA injury report

Jordan Poole turning into a star right in front of our eyes

jordan poole is the golden state warriors x-factor
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 28 pick of the Warriors out of Michigan back in 2019, Poole initially split time between the NBA G-League and the deep end of the Warriors’ bench as a rookie.

He averaged a mere 8.8 points on 33% shooting in 57 games as a rookie back in 2019-20. At that point, it seemed that Poole had bust written all over him.

Things changed towards the back end of his sophomore season in 2020-21 with Poole joining Stephen Curry and Draymond Green in sending an injury-plagued Warriors team to the play-in tournament.

  • Jordan Poole stats (final 18 games of 2020-21): 14.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 36% three-point shooting

This proved to be a harbinger of things to come for the still-young 22-year-old off guard.

Golden State pushed back against moving Poole in any off-season trade with the Philadelphia 76ers demanding him in a package for Ben Simmons. For the Warriors’ brass, Poole was going to be part of both the present and the future.

It has worked out swimmingly for the two sides thus far during the 2021-22 season with Poole entering Wednesday’s action averaging 17.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 46% shooting, including a 36% mark from three-point range.

However, Poole’s recent performance has led him on a path to stardom right in front of our eyes. The youngster entered Wednesday having scored 20-plus points in each of the past 10 games.

  • Jordan Poole stats past 11 games: 25.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.0 APG, 55% FG, 51% three-point

These are some absurd numbers for the young guard. They also come with the Warriors needing all of it given Curry’s injury and struggles from other core members of the team, Klay Thompson included.

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Jordan Poole to pack a scoring punch off the bench come NBA Playoff time

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Golden State Warriors
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

When completely healthy, the Warriors have opted for Poole to come off the bench and provide scoring. Unfortunately, the Warriors have not been completely healthy since the 2019 regular season. That’s not hyperbole. Curry, Thompson and Green have played in a total of two games together since the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

The hope here is that Curry will return for the final couple games of the regular season before Golden State heads into the playoffs. Both Thompson and Green are also 100% healthy right now.

It’s no small thing given that Golden State boasts a 21-19 record since a 27-6 start to the season.

With Jordan Poole providing that scoring off the bench, the Warriors become that much deeper.

The emergence of 19-year-old rookie Jonathan Kuminga adds another layer to this. He’s joined Jordan Poole on an absolute roll as of late, averaging 14.5 points over his past 22 outings. That included a 22-point performance in a starting role against the Heat Wednesday evening.

Star power obviously plays a role in the postseason. It’s in this that the Warriors will need Curry, Thompson and Green at their best if they are to return to championship contention.

However, depth also plays a major role. what we’ve seen from Jordan Poole over the past few weeks adds another layer to that. He’s now the Warriors’ X-factor heading down the stretch.

Be prepared, NBA world.

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