Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole has been one of his team’s bright spots in the postseason so far. His 30-point and 29-point performances against the Denver Nuggets show how lethal an offensive weapon he is. While head coach Steve Kerr is impressed with Poole’s offensive production, it is not what caught his eye.
Defending without fouling
According to Kerr, Poole’s greatest asset is his ability to take on the challenge defensively. More importantly, Poole is learning how to defend without fouling. Kerr shared that they have been nagging Poole to show some discipline on defense. Finally, the guard is showing off his defensive chops.
“Well, he’s gotten better this week than he was last week,” Kerr told 95.7 The Game’s Damon Bruce and Ray Ratto on Tuesday night. “I mean that. Where it’s really showing is in his defense. It’s been something we’ve been on him about all year. Defending without fouling, really taking on the challenge of taking on the best player. If the best player is coming at him -- accept it and embrace it. If there’s a switch, same thing. Get in front of that guy, defend him as best you can without fouling.”
Statistics back up Kerr’s comments. Poole’s defensive rating this season is at 105.5, a significant improvement from his 110.0 defensive rating during his rookie season two years ago.
The head coach’s observation and comments may seem elementary. It is common sense that the standard for good defense is to put the opposing player in a chokehold and not be called for the whistle. But this is perhaps the problem with most young players like Poole. Some of them get overeager on defense to the point of excessive contact. Kerr further explained how beneficial Poole’s newfound skill has been.
“The value of [not fouling] is hard to quantify, hard to explain,” Kerr continued. ”You saw it [Monday] night a few times where we didn’t foul, they made a tough shot and we race the ball back down -- even after a made shot -- and scored a bucket.”
“Whereas, if the other team is at the foul line, you can’t do that. Then their defense is set and waiting for you after your free throws.”
Two-way star in the making?
This is an interesting development in Poole’s young career. From a talented offensive player, he’s slowly unraveling into a capable defender. This is a testament to Poole’s dedication and the Warriors’ keen eye for talent. It certainly helps that Draymond Green, one of the best defenders in league history, is right there by Poole’s side.
Poole’s development somehow mirrors Klay Thompson. To recall, Thompson entered the limelight as a deadeye shooter, the Splash Brother of Stephen Curry. Yet as the years went on, Thompson established himself as a tremendous perimeter defender. For his efforts, he was voted into the All-Defensive Second Team in 2019.
Interestingly, this is Poole’s first playoff campaign. So far, he’s answering his team’s call and not acceding to the intense pressure. If this keeps up, we may see a superstar cracking out of his shell.