SAN FRANCISCO — When the Warriors send Jordan Poole to G League Santa Cruz, and that definitely is in the works, the move will not be a surprise.
Nor should the decision be considered punitive.
Rather, it will be a major step in the process to help the rookie shooting guard rediscover his game.
Poole’s trip to the Santa Cruz Warriors could come as early as this week, according to multiple league sources, but several other factors are influencing the timing.
The Warriors, for one, are considering the future of two-way point guard Ky Bowman, who has played well but is up to 30 days of NBA service. Another 15 days and the Warriors either waive Bowman, hand him a standard NBA contract or send him back to Santa Cruz. One way to extend his time with the franchise is to send him to the G League. Such a move is more likely with the return of point guard Jacob Evans III on Monday night.
The Warriors are disinclined to send both Poole and Lee to Santa Cruz. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but they’d much prefer to avoid it.
The second consideration involves shooting guard Damion Lee, the team’s other two-way player. Largely because he has missed the last four weeks, he still has 31 days of NBA service remaining. Initially listed as probable (generally considered a 75-percent chance of playing) Monday afternoon, Lee was downgraded to “out” two hours before tipoff.
Insofar as Lee plays the same position as Poole, Lee’s return could trigger Poole’s journey 90 minutes south of San Francisco.
The Warriors, according to multiple team sources, already have decided to meet with Poole before laying out the plan for once he arrives in Santa Cruz. He crept closer toward that direction Monday night when he received his first DNP-CD of the season as the Warriors fell, 110-102, to the Grizzlies.
The move is a response to Poole failing to find any shooting rhythm, the aspect of his game that was unquestioned when the Warriors selected him in the first round, No. 30 overall, last June. He’s shooting 25.8 percent from the field, including 24.5 percent beyond the arc.
Those numbers surely played a part in Poole exhibiting some shooting uncertainty, even mimicking reluctance, that bespeaks low confidence. The result is a shot without touch and, often, an outright brick.
The Warriors are certain Poole is better than what he has shown. Poole, 20, also realizes he needs to be better. He’s a natural scorer, with a natural stroke that suddenly looks unnatural.
The Warriors realized weeks ago that Poole could benefit from the kind of shooting rehab that can only happen in the G League. But injuries — five guards were on the injured list most of last month — left them in no position to be without any healthy player.
One of the three injured guards, D’Angelo Russell, returned last week. Evans III returned Monday night. A third, Lee, is expected back this week.
With that level of depth, the Warriors can give Poole the opportunity to get regular minutes in the G League and maybe rebuild the confidence he insists he hasn’t lost despite statistics showing otherwise. A place where microscopes won’t follow is the smart move, and Santa Cruz is perfect for a talented scorer in search of his gift.
The Warriors drafted Poole largely because of his ability to score. Playing in a democratic offensive system under John Beilein at Michigan, Poole didn’t put up massive numbers. But he knew how to get buckets.
Even though taking Poole in the first round was perceived by many around the league as a “reach,” the general belief was that his shooting was NBA-ready.
That has not been the case. The numbers don’t lie. The general belief now, at least among the Warriors, is that it’s past time to see if Poole can find his bearings in the G League and return to the NBA and actually be the shooter he’s expected to be.
Sources: Warriors plan to send first-round pick Jordan Poole to G League originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area