SAN FRANCISCO — Jordan Poole was the center of attention for much of Golden State’s season, which came to an end Friday in the Western Conference semifinals, but the fourth-year guard said that he didn’t let it affect his play and that he will “grow from” his struggles throughout the year amid a change in role.
It started during the preseason when Poole was involved in an altercation with Draymond Green that got leaked to the public. And it ended with him having a poor playoff performance against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round, causing some to question the four-year, $128 million extension he signed in the fall.
Poole was aware of almost everything that was being said about him.
“I always play with an edge. Play with a chip on my shoulder,” Poole said during his exit interview Saturday. “Finding ways to get better, and not necessarily proving people wrong but just knowing what I’m capable of and trying to reach that night in, night out.”
Poole’s performance saw a dip this season from 2021-22 — when he started 51 regular-season games while Klay Thompson was recovering from an Achilles injury and Stephen Curry was out with a left foot strain. He also started all five games of the Warriors’ first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.
This year, Poole started 43 games. He averaged 30 minutes — the same as last season — and bumped up his scoring, averaging 20.4 points per game. But his efficiency dropped, with him shooting 43% from the field, 33.3% from 3-point range and 87% from the free throw line.
In Golden State’s two playoff series, Poole struggled — to hit shots, create for himself and defend. At moments he was rushing, wanting so badly to get himself going. But that just made it worse.
He attributes it to a little bit of a role change.
“Last year I could come in and score, be aggressive with the team that we had around,” Poole said. “Being more of a facilitator. Trying to get them easy shots. … Everything won’t be the same. Like I said, you learn from that, grow from that and apply your skill set.”
“I’ll ride with Jordan ’til the wheels fall,” Donte DiVincenzo said. “He’s still willing to learn. He’s still willing to accept different voices for him to get better. But the one thing about JP that I admire the most is his confidence. It never wavers, and we’re going to need that to go forward. You can’t have people out there that second-guess themselves or their confidence isn’t at an all-time high.”
But it wasn’t just Poole’s role that changed this year. The supporting cast around him did as well. And with injuries and absences plaguing the Warriors all season, not even their core group was consistent.
In Poole’s eyes, that was the biggest difference this season.
“We were two different teams,” Poole said. “I mean, a couple of different players and a couple of different coaching changes, but as you would expect to see a different team, we made different changes. I think that’s just how it goes. Obviously, we have core guys that have core knowledge, and we can definitely always ride with that.”
As Golden State heads into the offseason, figuring out how to retool the roster is the No. 1 priority. But there are layers to it.
First is figuring out whether general manager Bob Myers, whose contract expires in June, will be back. Next is whether Green will pick up the player option waiting for him. Then, it’s finding out what to do with the rotation players.
DiVincenzo also has a player option, and younger players such as Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody — or even Poole — could be used in a trade package to get back more veteran players.
This story originally appeared on ESPN