Jordan Poole learning what it takes to be a scorer in the NBA – The Mercury News

SAN FRANCISCO — Jordan Poole was honored when the Lakers turned to the ballhawk Avery Bradley to shut him down. When the Clippers bodied him up two nights later, it was a reminder of the growing pains for the third-year guard.

The former first round pick out of Michigan has established himself as a legitimate scoring threat — the Warriors’ primary playmaker without Stephen Curry on the floor — but he’s also learning the challenges that come with the inflated responsibility.

“He’s on their scouting report now,” said Draymond Green, who’s drawn a few opponents’ attention of the years. “When you’re starting and you’re playing the way he’s playing through the preseason and that first game, that’s what teams are going to do. … That team was very physical with him. That’s cool. He’s gonna see more of that. … I just told him to slow down.”

In the season opener, Poole complemented Curry exactly how the Warriors envision — albeit with a few miscues — but saw his role shrink Thursday as the elder statesman erupted for 45 points.

Poole committed two early fouls, the real reason Curry re-entered earlier than expected — not riding the wave of momentum from his 25-point first quarter, Kerr said. Both came after switching into size mismatches.

Poole turned the ball over three times during his first stint on the court and was responsible for seven of Golden State’s 21 total giveaways. The physicality of the Clippers’ guards stymied Poole and limited him to 9 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

“When you’re the focal point for the defense, the game gets a lot harder,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Like I said, this is just the next step in his development. … People are going to start getting more physical with him. I told him, what a great learning experience, to deal with this. … So (Thursday) was a really good lesson for him, and he’ll get better for it.”

Poole averaged 21.8 points per game during the preseason and was a popular pick as a breakout candidate. He validated the hype with 20 points, second only to Curry, in the Warriors’ season opener.

Curry has taken to mentoring the young guard.

During a timeout in Los Angeles, a resting Curry got up from his seat and walked the length of the sideline to talk with Poole. Later on, in the final minutes, he grabbed the young guard by the shoulder with both hands, before sealing the season-opening win.

Curry sees Poole navigating many of the same travails he encountered in his first few years in the league. Remember, the Warriors almost traded a young, inconsistent and injury-prone Curry.

“To be a solid budding star in this league, you have be able to deal with adversity,” Curry said after Tuesday’s win in Los Angeles. “Understand that it’s not always gonna be perfect, but you’re always going to be a threat out there and maintaining that even-keeled nature as much as possible.”

As teams size Poole up, Kerr and Green and Curry repeat their message: slow things down.

“When a team is pressing up against you like that, their goal is to get you to speed up,” Green said. “So he has to slow it down and get where he wants when he wants to get there, not just get to where they send him flying off a screen, faster than you may need to. … If he can slow down a little bit, I think it’ll be very beneficial for him.”