Suns coach Williams believes JP ‘learning how to play like Steph'


Jordan Poole is no longer the Warriors' best-kept secret.

Word is out on the third-year pro thanks to a breakout 2021-22 NBA season, coming on the heels of his improved play during the second half of last season.

Ahead of the Warriors' final meeting of the regular season with the NBA-best Phoenix Suns, coach Monty Williams was asked what it takes to stop a scorer like Poole.

"He's right there with all the top scorers in the league, so case in point, they're all hard to stop because they do it in so many ways, at the rim, mid-range, from three, their body movement," Williams told reporters at Chase Center. "The tough part about Jordan is he's learning how to play like Steph. He understands that when Draymond has it at the top and he's close by, that's a quick [dribble handoff] or quick pass and screen, whereas last year, I don't think they played as quickly in that environment.

"I think the corporate knowledge he has in this program has allowed for him to be an even better player. He's like a lot of the top players in this league now, top scorers anyway, you have to give them different defense and be as physical as you can to the legal limit to try to limit their looks at the basket."

Seen as a reach when the Warriors drafted Poole with the No. 28 overall pick the 2019 NBA Draft, Poole took time to get acclimated to the professional game. He struggled as a rookie and the early part of last season. But a trip to the G League midway through the 2020-21 season changed everything for the Michigan product.

Prior to the All-Star break last year, Poole was averaging 6.8 points in 16 games. After the All-Star break, he bumped his numbers up to 14.4 points in 35 games.

This season, the Warriors needed more out of Poole with Klay Thompson still rehabbing from a torn right Achilles the first few months of the season, and the 22-year-old delivered. Prior to Thompson's return on Jan. 9, Poole averaged 17.5 points per game on 44.5 percent shooting from the field and 33.7 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Poole's numbers have steadily increased as he's gotten more comfortable. Over the last 38 games since Thompson's return, Poole is averaging 18.3 points per game. And in March, the numbers are even more noteworthy as he has pushed his points per game to 23.3 on 48.1 percent shooting from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range.

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As if Poole heard Williams' pregame comments, the Warriors' guard scored 15 points in the first quarter of Wednesday's game and finished the first half with 17 total points.

Poole took time to develop but now has turned himself into a player capable of scoring 25 points on a consistent basis and the rest of the NBA, including the coach on the best team in the league, has taken notice of how good he is.

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