Kerr hopes chat with Poole at Warriors practice pays dividends originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayare
SAN FRANCISCO – While Klay Thompson, JaMychal Green and Anthony Lamb were working out with Warriors staff members after practice Monday, head coach Steve Kerr joined Jordan Poole in the fourth corner of the gym beneath the Chase Center.
A coach-player meeting. Kerr in one chair, Poole in the other. There were, observing from across the floor, moments light and serious.
Although Kerr would not divulge the subjects discussed, the logical presumption is that it’s course-correction time for Poole, who has relied on isolation-heavy offense with results well below his standard.
“Just trying a little less hard to make the great play,” Kerr said of his goal with the fourth-year guard. “Getting off the ball and trusting that it will come back. If we execute the way we can, his scoring opportunities won’t be with the defense set up, waiting for him every time.
“If he can get off the ball and we can execute, he can now attack a closeout with the defense scattered. Or he can use his speed to get to the rim rather than pounding the ball on a high screen-and-roll, with everybody waiting for him. It’s not just him. It’s on our whole group to execute better.”
In three games since the All-Star break, Poole is averaging 15.3 points while shooting 28.3 percent (13 of 46) from the field, including 21.7 percent (5 of 23) from 3-point range, with 16 assists and seven turnovers. His true shooting percentage is 43.0 percent, well below his 56.7 percent total for the season.
The most visible aspect where JP is getting lost is his shot selection. On too many occasions, he’s jacking up deep 3-balls early in the shot clock without a single pass. Or going one-on-three, with the only positive for the Warriors being that his teammates are already back on defense in case he misses.
“He wants so badly to help that he’s trying too hard and taking some shots that are a little difficult,” Kerr conceded.
Poole, 23, blossomed into a star last season, averaging 18.5 points on 44.8-percent shooting, including 36.4 beyond the arc and a league-leading 92.5 percent from the foul line. Efficiency, across the board, has tumbled: 43.2, 33.0 and 86.2.
The problem now is that it appears Poole is trying to make a headlong dive towards superstardom. Complicating the matter is the fact that the absence of Stephen Curry has plunged him into the role of catalyst.
“He is getting … the bulk of every game plan from our opponents is based on him,” Kerr said. “Given our injuries, given how good he is, how good he was last year and what people are learning about him, they know how important Jordan is to our team. That’s the ultimate compliment.
“But like all young players, he’s got to go through new experiences. There’s constantly changing circumstances in this league for every player, but especially one who we’re counting on so much to create and to score.”
Tough stretches will be good for Poole’s growth, something that will eventually make him a better and more complete player. As is, though, pairing him with Klay Thompson or Donte DiVincenzo has the potential to be dynamic, capable of combining for 50 or more points in any given game.
Thompson came out of the break playing very well, as is DiVincenzo. Nudging Poole back towards reasonable efficiency, with sound decision-making, would present a multitude of problems for opposing defenses.
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Kerr’s desire for JP to start “easing back on the throttle” was surely a part of their conversation, one that seems abundantly necessary.
“A big part of the job is just checking in with guys when things need to be discussed or when I see something,” Kerr said. “We have great staff. These guys do amazing work behind the scenes, talking to our players one-on-one, helping them through something they’re going through on the court. . .. It’s important for me to check in with guys periodically.
Kerr realizes Poole will be sitting in Curry’s saddle for at least a few more games. The coach is hoping a chat will lead to a few adjustments, which could make the ride considerably smoother.