For the last year, any minutes the Warriors played without Steph Curry on the court have been the cause of anxiety. Those eight minutes were usually when it was decided if the Warriors would lose, or fight until the end.
It wasn't just because they didn't have Klay Thompson, but also because they didn't have anyone off the bench who could be counted on as a reliable scorer. So far this season, the Warriors have seemed to solve that problem with a simple solution: Jordan Poole.
The emergence of Poole since his breakout in the G League bubble last spring has been a revelation for the Warriors. So much so, that he has quickly become the Warriors' No. 2 guy on offense. Ahead of the Warriors' season-opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, Steve Kerr said that he'll likely stagger Poole and Curry in the lineup to start the season so that at least one of them is on the floor at all times -- a treatment we used to see with the OG Splash Brothers of Steph and Klay.
Staggering Poole and Curry worked for the Warriors during the preseason, and boy did it work against the Lakers on Tuesday night in Golden State's 121-114 win.
"When Steph is on the bench and Jordan is out there making plays, we're able to spread the floor and get the ball moving," Kerr said. "That group plays really well together. A lot of fun to watch."
Poole finished the night with 20 points, 16 of which came in the second half. In the three and a half minutes in the fourth quarter without Curry, Poole scored eight points and helped the Warriors net a +10 -- something that was a rarity last year.
But what made Poole's performance in Los Angeles even more encouraging, is that he wasn't just able to help the team survive the Curry-less minutes, but he was able to help the team stay afloat while Curry found his rhythm.
Golden State Warriors
"He was fantastic,” Draymond Green said of Poole. “He made some huge plays for us. That run we went on there in the fourth quarter, beginning of the fourth, he was right in the middle of everything. He played a damn good game tonight. I have no doubt that he will keep that going."
While Curry finished the night with his eighth career triple-double, most of the night he felt cold. His shot wasn't falling early on and he committed four out of character turnovers. Poole wasn't shooting the lights out himself to start the game, but he found enough in him to help the team wait Curry out.
"To be a solid budding star in this league you have to be able to deal with adversity and understand that it's not always going to be perfect, but you're always going to be a threat out there and maintain that even-keeled nature as much as possible," Curry said on Poole's ability to shake off his slow start. "It's about sticking with it. For (Poole), he knows he's going to be out there playing this year, unlike last year where minutes were all over the place.
"This year he knows he's a part of us being successful. There's confidence and opportunity there."
Before Poole was named the starting shooting guard in place of Klay Thompson, there was an argument that suggested it could behoove him to stay coming off the bench so he knows how to play with that unit. Once Thompson returns, Poole will most likely become a Sixth Man.
With Kerr's plan to stagger Poole and Curry, Poole will still get minutes under his belt with the bench. The lineup of Poole, Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Andre Iguodala and Damion Lee showed tremendous potential against the Lakers.
The entire second unit deserves credit for the Warriors' ability to survive the non-Curry minutes and change the momentum of the game down the stretch. But it was an effort led by Poole.
He's quickly become the bridge man between the starters and bench and has finally given Golden State the keys to a survival tactic that will allow Curry to rest and work out his kinks.
And because of that, the Warriors can take a massive exhale of relief.