Where would Poole go if 2019 NBA Draft happened today? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 2019 NBA Draft looked to be one for the ages, headlined by several college stars who only improved their stock during March Madness. There was the Duke trio of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. There was Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, UNC’s Coby White and Cam Johnson, Kentucky’s P.J. Washington, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson, and many more.
Oh, and Murray State’s Ja Morant.
Keldon Johnson (No. 29) is just one of several players who went later in the draft and already looks like a steal in Year 3. The same goes with Matisse Thybulle (No. 20), Brandon Clarke (No. 21), Nic Claxton (No. 31) and several others.
And then there’s Warriors guard Jordan Poole, taken with the No. 28 pick in the draft.
Poole played March Madness hero for Michigan as a freshman when he drained a game-winning buzzer-beater against Houston in the second round. He returned for his sophomore season where he averaged 12.8 points and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 36.9 percent from 3-point range for the Wolverines. When the Warriors scooped him up at the end of the first round, he was one of the most intriguing picks in the draft, but also seen as a reach by many.
Through his first two years in the NBA, those who felt that way about Poole before the draft were being validated. Some even wanted to slap a “bust” label on him. Not anymore.
As Poole continues to put on a show in March, new questions surrounded him: Is he better as a starter or off the bench? Should he start over Klay Thompson when the Warriors are at full strength? How much will he cost in the near future? All those are (mostly) valid questions. Then came another on Wednesday night after Poole put up 30 points in an improbable win over the Miami Heat.
Where would Poole go in a 2019 re-draft?
Starting at the top, the first two picks aren’t changing. Well, not exactly. They’re just being flipped.
Say what you will about Zion’s health. The Grizzlies aren’t letting him get past the second pick. There’s just too much potential, and when healthy, he has proven that he can be a superstar in any market.
The same goes with Morant. The high-flying skinny point guard from Murray State has sky-rocketed into the MVP conversation in his third season. He was named Rookie of the Year and was given All-Star Game honors for the first time this season. Memphis has adopted Morant as one of its own. New Orleans gladly would do the same.
That brings us to the No. 3 pick. Would the Knicks again go with Barrett or be swayed to go a different way? P.S., Poole has to be part of this conversation. That’s how much he has improved, that’s how great he has been in March — and has flashed that same greatness throughout a season that hasn’t exactly been without obstacles.
“Jordan has such a bright future,” Klay Thompson said of Poole on Friday night. “The world can see that. And we need him. We need him to win, reach our goals. And I enjoy playing with him. He’s such an incredible ball-handler, shooter, scorer and I look forward to seeing him grow every year.
“To be 22 years old and be able to do what he does, it’s a testament to his hard work and his future is so bright.”
Barrett, with 17.4 points per game for his career, has averaged the third-most points from his draft class — behind just Williamson and Morant, in that order. He also has been given every opportunity to do so and his weaknesses with offensive inconsistencies and low effort on defense have been well documented. Starting with the Knicks, it’s a pick your poison decision between Barrett, Poole, Darius Garland and Tyler Herro.
I’m going with Garland.
The Knicks have been starved for a star point guard, and Garland finally puts an end to that. Standing at only 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, Garland is a problem for opposing defenses and is averaging 21.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. The Cavs won 22 games last season. The first-time All-Star has them as the current No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
That means Barrett has to be the next pick, right? Or at least Herro. Barrett was a borderline All-Star this season, Herro has already helped lead his team to the NBA Finals and he’s the favorite to win Sixth Man of the Year this season.
Nope. The Poole Party is coming to the Atlanta Hawks, the same team that he just scored 24 points against on Friday, and 24 picks higher than he originally was drafted.
In what was his first career double-double, Poole scored at least 20 points for the 12th straight game in the Warriors’ loss to the Hawks. He’s now averaging 24.5 points per game and shooting 48.6 percent from beyond-the-arc this month. With Klay still sidelined to open the season, Poole was named the Warriors’ starting shooting guard one season after he spent a handful of time in the G League. Poole averaged 20.3 points per game and shot 37.5 percent on 3-pointers over 15 games in November.
He then had to adapt to Thompson’s return soon after, has proven to be a top scoring threat as a starter or off the bench, and now with Curry out has assumed the duties as the Warriors’ top playmaker and offensive weapon. Through 68 games (43 starts), Poole is averaging 17.7 points and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 36.6 percent from deep and has a 55.6 effective field goal percentage — which is better than Barrett, Garland and Herro.
Poole’s results have caught up with his swagger. He was built for the moment and has proven he’s ready for the brightest lights. Former Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk tried to rebuild the Splash Brothers after he became the Hawks’ GM and drafted Trae Young and Kevin Huerter in 2018.
His wish would be granted with Poole. For Warriors fans, reality is far better than fiction in this case.
Dusk off your trunks. The Poole Party has just begun, and it’s only going to cost more with each game played.