There’s arguably no current Washington Wizards player that carries a bigger question mark coming into the season than Jordan Poole.
Sure, Bilal Coulibaly is an enigma right now. Kyle Kuzma is also worth watching to see if he could make a leap as the veteran leader on this team. But Poole is going from sixth man on a contender to potentially the first option on a rebuilding franchise. His ceiling and floor appears as immense as the San Francisco Bay he’s leaving behind.
Much was made about Poole’s down year last season. After his breakout performance during the Golden State Warriors’ 2022 title run, Poole supposedly regressed.
The crux of JP’s downfall in Golden State (that wasn’t Draymond Green-related) was his performance in the 2023 playoffs. His efficiency plummeted to 34.1% from the field and 25.4% from beyond the arc, leading to a reduced role in the Warriors’ failed title defense.
But Poole still averaged a career-high 20.4 points per game for the season on a not-terrible 43.0% shooting from the field. For reference, Gilbert Arenas was a 42.1% shooter for his career.
There’s no question Poole will see his shot attempts soar in Washington. 20 points a night, at minimum, seems to be a foregone conclusion.
But my question for Wizards fans is this: what does Jordan Poole need to accomplish in order to satisfy the fan base next season?
Would there be a statistical metric he needs to reach? Is there a more qualitative criteria some of you will be looking out for?
Poole has already proven himself to be a winner and a champion across just four seasons in the NBA. The massive asterisk on his career would be the fact that he has never played on a team that didn’t feature the greatest shooter of all time spacing the floor for him.
We’ve seen similar exits from standout backups generate varying degrees of success in the past. Eric Bledsoe flirted with All-Star status for a few seasons after leaving Chris Paul’s shadow in Los Angeles. Reggie Jackson put up relatively empty points on a mediocre Pistons team following his own departure from OKC.
On the other hand, James Harden was about Poole’s age when he was traded to Houston. Similar to Poole, not many new exactly what to expect from Harden as a primary option after saying goodbye to Westbrook and Kevin Durant. It’s safe to say Harden went above and beyond expectations. Poole appears to lean closer to Harden than Bledsoe in terms of raw offensive potential.
With the ultimate green light in D.C., Poole has a chance to endear himself to a fan base desperate for a successful new era.