Kawakami: Jordan Poole is leading the next generation of Warriors

Jordan Poole is turning into a soaring 16 gamer warrior‘Eye.in front of Mavericks‘ eyes too, although they may be less enthusiastic about development.

Of course, the term “16-game player” is the team’s own shorthand for one and only one type of person: someone who can actually help the Warriors win four of each of the four playoff rounds. . people who can satisfy the present. Someone they can rely on when the ground shakes.

Win 16 playoff games, then you have a parade, and the Warriors have done 3 old preparations before Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala, they’re both ideal 16-game players and both are desperate to add more. So they can add more trophies.

Kevin Rooney His roles in two of those titles were honored. He again had a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Warriors led 2-0 in the Western Conference finals with a 126-117 score at Chase Center on Friday.But the Warriors have thought Looney was a 16-game player for a while, probably from the moment they threw him there houston In the 2018 Western Conference finals, he played well when he moved James Harden in an epic seven-game series. Andrew Wiggins Also a key part of it all, and every playoff game has proven it. little otto porter This postseason has been very stable.

What about Poole? It’s happening. The Warriors need it to happen now; this postseason, in many ways, heralds the dawn of a new generation of Warriors playoff champions. That must have happened on Friday, when Poole scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and led the Warriors’ offense in the clutches of Curry’s break. That happened when Poole and Curry were on the floor, and even a little on the defensive end — Poole had a game-best 26 points in 29 minutes of the night.

The entire league is witnessing it all.

“The coaches gave me the keys, and my teammates believed I could put them in an easy state, score and play,” Poole said after Curry was sidelined. “Just get out there and be aggressive.”

Steve Kerr had to improvise a bit with that group to start Game 4. Damien Lee Been in the unit lately, but he was spread out in a bad first-half shift, so Kerr turned to the rookie Moses Moody, he hasn’t played a meaningful minute in the playoffs so far. What happened: The Warriors immediately took the first lead of the game on Porter’s 3-pointer and moved on from there. The Warriors led 102-95 when Curry returned to the game and replaced Poole with 6:24 left.

Then after a good rest, Curry ended the game in a way that only Curry can. The Warriors don’t have to force Curry into extra minutes. They can run their second unit there and rely on Poole.Even if the Warriors have Kevin Durant, they can’t quite do that in the playoffs because it works better when they max out Curry and Durant together. When Curry rested, that left the Warriors vulnerable at the start of the second and fourth quarters.

But not so much these days. Poole wasn’t perfect in the playoffs. He had a couple of inconsistent games in the Denver-Memphis series, when the defense started to get stronger. He could have some more inconsistent plays in this series. His defense remains a question mark. The point, though, is that Poole has forced the defense to make these adjustments, and he’s upped his game when it matters most.

“I have a lot of confidence in Jordan,” Kerr said. “We’ve seen him do that with Steph rested and still give us the offensive punch we need, shot creation.

“Jordan did take on a role that we’ve struggled with for years. It’s traditionally been really, really hard for us when Stephen sits. So Jordan gave us a different kind of dynamic, and it was very important.”

On Friday night, the Warriors looked bewildered early in the morning against a Mavs who were much better than Game 1, bewildered by the Mavs’ 3-pointer and trailed by 14 at halftime. The Warriors could have easily lost this game to tie the series. Then they’ll head to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 and have a chance to let things get out of hand.

But Rooney was in control. The Warriors defended in the third quarter, and they won 25-13. The Mavericks stopped hitting every 3-pointer. Poole kept running for layups at key positions, looking for teammates to take open shots.

There were even moments when Dallas seemed to lose 100 percent focus on Curry and Thompson because defenders were a little concerned about what Poole might do to them.

“Certainly, as a ball handler and a playmaker, he’s perfectly capable of taking advantage of that,” Curry said. “Sometimes I or Klay don’t have the ball, and we know they’re not going to really leave us or help us … He’s been very good at taking advantage of that, getting into the paint, crafty finishes.

“There were a couple of transitions, I remember at the end of the second quarter, he came off the left. Everyone was focused on him and his speed, layup, he found me on the right wing and I knocked the ball down.”

In the bigger picture, Poole, 22, is the standard bearer for the Warriors’ budding next generation, which includes James Wiseman (twenty one), Jonathan Cuminga (19) and Moody (19). Poole’s performance in his first postseason was a neon sign for the front office, the coaching staff, the veterans and the youngsters themselves. Maybe this run can be extended for a few more years. Maybe when Curry, Klay and Draymond need more help than they need right now, the next group will be ready.

“Moses are very mature, and what sets him apart is that he is always ready,” Poole said. “It’s huge for him to step up and play a big part in the Western Conference finals and help us win.

“It goes back to the veteran, giving him confidence, instilling confidence in him, and the coaching staff giving him and the players confidence. We’re all just a collective unit. Shout out to Moses. Great minutes, He helped us win games, and I’m glad he was able to experience that, especially as a rookie, and I have no doubt he’ll be able to build on that.”

The Warriors have Wiggins, 27, and Looney, 26, as middle-aged players. They have classic dynasty players, all in their 30s. They have people 22 and younger. And they have plenty of money to cover record wage costs to keep them.

They just want to see these guys knock out playoff wins, and now they’re two wins away from the NBA Finals.

“We’ve got a good mix of young guys and guys who’ve been in the league for a few years and veteran guys who’ve been through it all,” Poole said. “Just a very specific situation where I think we know that. We don’t take that for granted. We have to figure out a way to keep winning games.”

The Warriors have won 10 playoff games so far. With six more, they took home another trophy. The pressure will only increase. For Curry, Draymond, Klay and Looney, it’s old hats, but for Poole and the rest of the next-gen Warriors, it’s brand new territory, and they’re currently adjusting.

(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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